Monday, March 26, 2012

Debby's Wedding Dress

Our friends Debby and Dan got engaged three days before our wedding, and decided to hold the wedding in Las Vegas in May 2005, to coincide with the opening of Episode III. Debby asked me if I would make her dress, and I agreed.

Making this dress was definitely a labor of love for us both. We'd have marathon sessions where Debby would spend hours at my house working on her programs or bridesmaid gifts, and I would sew like mad and call her over for periodic fittings. It kept us both honest-- it's a lot harder to procrastinate when someone else is there with you!

In the end, I was really proud of how the dress turned out. I don't think I'll ever make another wedding dress, though; the stress of having to get everything exactly perfect was too intense. (All self-inflicted pressure, I should point out. Debby was fantastically low-maintenance and about as far from a Bridezilla as you can get.) But I was more of a perfectionist about her dress than I was about my own!
Debby and Dan's Wedding, May 2005


Friday, March 23, 2012

Kaylee's Shindig Dress

Character: Kaylee Frye
Costume: Party dress from "Shindig"
From: Firefly
Made: 2005

The short-lived television series Firefly remains one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and this is my absolute favorite costume from the entire show. It's from the episode "Shindig," where in order to meet with a business contact, Kaylee and Mal have to go to a fancy dress ball. To make up for being mean to Kaylee earlier in the episode, Mal buys her this dress, which she'd seen in a store window and loved. Now, Kaylee's no city girl, and her taste is-- questionable, to say the least. This dress is unbelievably pink, unbelievably fluffy, and I, like Kaylee, love it beyond all reason.

I'd been wanting to make the dress since I saw the series in fall 2004, but an email from my friend Kel convinced me to make it a bit earlier than I'd planned. She and some of our other costuming friends were planning a big Firefly group entry in the San Diego Comic-Con Masquerade to promote Serenity, the movie that was based on the Firefly TV series. Were my husband and I interested in joining them? You're gorram right we were! I tossed together a Mal costume for him, unfortunately sans his signature browncoat. That one's still on the to-do list.

 Of course, the dress ended up being yet another last-minute, no-sleep project, so I'm not as happy with some parts of it as I'd like to be, but I had so much fun being in the group and doing Masquerade that it didn't matter. You can see a video of our skit on YouTube here, and Carolyn, who was our "casual-clothes" Kaylee, has a page about our group's entry.

San Diego Comic-Con 2005, as part of the "Big Damn Heroes" Masquerade entry
(Thanks to Cathleen, Cordelia, Kathy, Kel, Kim, Hasufel, Eurobeat King, and Consplayers for the pics!)


Dragon*Con 2007
(Thanks to PinkRouge and Kay_Dee for the pics!)


Zoe Washburne

Character: Zoe Washburne
From: Firefly
Made: 2005

Of the many, many shows prematurely cancelled by Fox, I miss Firefly the most. So when my husband and I got tickets for an advance screening of the Big Damn Movie Serenity, we decided to go in costume, and who better to dress as than Zoe and Wash, who had one of the strongest, most stable marriages on TV? We only had a couple of days to throw the outfits together, but I think they came out pretty well. (His was entirely bought-- a green jumpsuit and a thrift-store Hawaiian shirt.)
Serenity Screening, Las Vegas, May 2005


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Carly's Hufflepuff Tie

My friend Kelly's daughter Carly wanted to dress as a Hogwarts student from Hufflepuff house for Halloween 2004, but they were having trouble finding a black-and-yellow-striped tie for the outfit. So I offered to make one. I couldn't find any appropriate pre-striped fabric, so I tore some black and some yellow cotton into one-inch strips and sewed them together with quarter-inch seams to make a square of striped fabric. I based the pattern off of one of my husband's ties, with a little help from this website. I made it a fair bit shorter than a typical tie, both because I didn't have quite enough fabric and because it was for a seven-year-old, and backed the whole thing with interfacing. It was a fun little afternoon project, and I think it turned out quite nicely.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


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!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pineapple Upside-Down Dress

At my Star Wars fan group's yearly get-togethers, Thursday night is Games Night, and on Games Night you wear pineapple clothing.  Why?  No one's quite sure, but we do it anyway.  Usually, I wear my pineapple pajama pants that I bought from Delia's several years ago, but for 2004 I decided to be a bit more elaborate.  I had this big idea for a fifties-style prom dress where the skirt would be the pineapple and the bodice would be the leaves, and then I realized that if I reversed that, I could use this fun green chiffon I had on hand.  And thus was born the idea for the pineapple upside-down dress.  (You know, like the cake.)

This was very much a last-minute costume, so I made it pretty much straight from a commercial pattern, and I didn't make a muslin beforehand.  Thus, the fit suffered quite a bit, and I actually had to gaff tape myself into the bodice so it would stay in place. I used McCall's 4460, view C, except I omitted the tulle and added a lot of layers to the skirt.

My decision to make this dress was cemented when I found a pin-tucked, cross-hatched muslin at Hancock Fabrics.  It practically screamed "pineapple!"  I bleached it and then dyed it with RIT Golden Yellow, which I had left over from my adventures in rainbow dress dyeing.

There are four layers in the bodice: the outer layer of decorative muslin, an underlayer of bright yellow cotton, a stiffening layer of cotton duck, and a lining of bright yellow cotton.  I didn't use any boning, although I should have.  The dress closes in the back with a zipper.

The skirt also has four layers: two underlayers of dark green poly/cotton, and two overlayers of iridescent green chiffon.  The underlayers follow the pattern, so they have a straight-across hem, but for the overlayers I had each skirt piece come to a point, to simulate the pineapple's leaves.  I rotated the top layer about 45 degrees so that the points are staggered, rather than overlapping.  All hems are finished with a serged rolled edge.  The seam between the bodice and the skirt is kind of messy, and the yellow zipper really shows up against the green of the skirt, so I added a gold ribbon around the waist in the hopes of camouflaging these imperfections.

Generic RenFaire Outfit

Costume: Renaissance Faire garb and/or pirate wench
Made: 2002

I made this outfit in the middle of making Arwen's chase dress, which means it's one of the first things I ever sewed. I'd splurged on a fabulous blue suede bodice from Austin Leather Works at GenCon, and I wanted to make a chemise and skirt to go along with it and wear the whole outfit to King Richard's Faire. In the years since, I've worn it to many other renaissance faires, to opening night of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and as part of a costume group for The Guild at Dragon*Con. It's not remotely historically accurate, but it's pretty versatile!


Initially, both the chemise and skirt were made straight from the instructions at Dawn's Costume Guide. The skirt is made from a cotton-poly broadcloth and the chemise is a loose-weave muslin. In 2011, I remade the skirt and made another smock/shift/chemise from a finer, thinner cotton. I recut my skirt (initially just a tube of fabric gathered to a waistband) into an infinite-gore skirt that's box-pleated at the waist. This resulted in less bulk at the waist and more fullness at the hem. You can find .pdf instructions for an infinite-gore skirt here. I used the Elizabethan Smock Pattern Generator to make my new smock; it worked very well! You can see the remade skirt and new smock in the last picture above. My hat is from Wheat Goddesses and I love it!

My Wedding Dress

I got married in October 2004, and I made my own dress, since there wasn't much off-the-rack that appealed to me. Almost all the dresses I saw in magazines seemed so stiff and formal-- I wanted something simple, soft, drapey. Looking back, I'm of two minds about making my own dress. On the one hand, it was *so* stressful, because I wanted it to be perfect, and because I had so much else to do as well. On the other hand, the dress turned out exactly as I wanted it to, and it was a really special, personal touch for my wedding.
The Wedding: October 2004