Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Whole New Purpose

Well, sorta. So since Prince Caspian has come and gone already, I have to decide what to do with this blog. I really liked having all the pictures and details of each stage of a costume because once it's all finished I kinda forget that part. So, I will definitely revert this blog back to Narnia when Voyage of the Dawn Treader comes out and I attempt Susan's Farewell Dress from Prince Caspian. But until then, I think I'll change this to any kind of costumes.

I make and sell costumes for a living so I won't be posting the boring, everyday costumes. I'll instead focus on the ones that I'm slowly but surely working on. I'll try to get a complete list but so far they include:

I'm sure I'll think of others soon. Oh, and I promise to get better pictures of my Prince Caspian costumes up soon. I need to have an outdoors photoshoot when it's not 100 degrees outside...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008


A beautiful letdown - is that a song? It's a great way to describe my emotions right now. Anyways, I finished my costumes and we wore them proudly to the midnight premiere. Four of us were costumed - I had finished six but my two young cousins (Lucy and Edmund) weren't allowed to go to the midnight premiere.

We looked amazing. Of the six costumes I made, they split evenly into two categories: Insanely Accurate, and Pretty Close. The Insanely Accurate ones were: Susan's Battle for me, Caspian's Main for my brother, and Lucy's Rust Red for my cousin. The Pretty Close ones were: Caspian's Coronation for a friend, Peter's Brown Tunic for my brother's college roommate, and Edmund's Battle for another cousin.

To determine the criteria was rather easy - hand sewing. I hate hand sewing with a passion and avoid it at all costs. Lucy's bodice received hand sewn French knots, Caspian's sleeves were smocked, and Susan's dress just had insane amounts of time put in it - those darn straps on the cuirass.

Another determination of the categories is Would I Change Anything?

Susan's Battle Dress is as accurate as I could possible get it. It only lacks a collar for the chainmaille (which I decided I didn't like) and the weird leather cord 'seam' on the chainmaille sleeves (if you don't know what I'm talking about that's because it was the tiniest of details). Every other inch of my Susan dress makes me happy.

Caspian's Main is perhaps the most accurate guys costume replica I have ever made. Incorrect details? The sleeve was not hand set into the armhole with cartridge pleats (it was just machine gathered). Embroidery was just drawn on (though it turned out quite nice). Boots aren't right - but they were an extremely last minute thing - we were literally finishing them on the way to the theater. Other inaccuracies for Caspian? The sleeve cuffs don't fasten the same way as the original (I was too lazy/hurried to make buttonholes so they tie instead).

Lucy's costume I am also very proud of (I'm also proud of the fact that it was finished so far in advance!). From the swirls on the bodice to the neckline stitching on the underdress, this costume turned out exactly as I wanted it.

The other three have many things wrong. Caspian's coronation was fairly close considering we only had one photo and a horse's head was blocking the front. But I didn't make any pants so my poor Caspian had to wear khakis. Peter's Brown Tunic was okay. But I didn't make the left princess seam split or do the embroidery on the left side. Also, it is very obviously not velvet. Edmund's Battle is kinda close - the pieces that I made. Not too bad. But I didn't make the leather gorget (collar) or hand embroider the bottom hem (though I did stitch a little of the lion).

Anyway, that was just me ranting. I realize that anyone reading this would rather pictures than me ranting. *is incredibly embarrassed* We didn't actually take any pictures at the premiere. Well, other people took pictures of us and with us - random people and even the theater employees! I did manage to have a friend take some good pictures of my brother as Caspian - I'll post those as soon as possible. We're dressing up again to take my two cousins on Sunday and I promise to get pictures of that!

By the way, Prince Caspian is amazing! I won't spoil it for anyone but I loved it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Caspian Update

First of all, on I took my Caspian sleeves to a local sewing shop/children's boutique. The lady pleated the sleeves (7 rows of thread = 6 finished rows of smocking) where I had marked on the upper arm. It cost me all of $5! Once I had the pleats, I drew on a squiggly design to be "embroidery."
So then I went off to Mom and Dad's on Friday night and while we watched a movie (The Prestige which I hate!), I almost finished one sleeve. I used this website for instructions on how to smock (which I had never done before). The Wardrobe Door recommends using a Honeycomb Stitch but recent photos suggest that it is a Surface Honeycomb - which is what I used. My mom had smocked years and years ago, so she didn't have any real advice except to pull each stitch tight. It really makes a difference in the outcome. The middle rows are shorter by ten stitches (five on each side) and the bottom rows are still shorter by another ten. Anyway, here is one finished sleeve and detail of the stitches:

Then I worked on the Brigandine. I had an epiphany that it would be a million times faster to apply the fun foam strips with hot glue instead of craft glue. Brilliant! I also used the hot glue to fill in the cracks between the strips on the back. Note: the hot glue in the cracks isn't quite as pretty as regular glue. If you have time, use regular glue. If you are pressed for time, hot glue will work in a pinch. Here's a picture taken yesterday with my Caspian.

Can you see the excitement radiating from his face? ;) Anyway, now I have applied all the strips and I'm only missing the extra pieces are the neck and the sleeve caps. And I might make the brigandine a little shorter. We'll see once we have the whole ensemble. For the white shirt, I've got to re-adjust the sleeve because the shape of it is making the smocking sag instead of being straight across. And then of course, finish the other sleeve, add cuffs, add the collar, and draw more embroidery. I'm going to try to spray paint the whole brigandine today. I'm so excited. Oh! And there was a chance that my theater wasn't going to have a midnight premiere and they just added one yesterday! Hooray!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Caspian's Brigandine

So I worked today on gluing the strips of fun foam to the fabric vest. The chest strips are 1.75 inches across and the skirt pieces are whatever the width of the skirt piece divided by three (so each skirt flare has three strips that are sorta triangular).

I've got all the skirt strips glued on and some of the front chest strips. Hopefully, it will dry completely overnight so I can work on the chest tomorrow. It will be harder because I won't be able to lay it flat because of the shoulders and seams. After that, I've got to find some way to make it curve to the body when worn. Right now it is very box-y. Very box-y. I think I'll try seeing if I have hold it over the stove-top eye to melt it a little and make it retain a curved shape. If I can't get it up to the stove, I'll try a hairdryer or a hot iron (not touching the foam, of course).

One thing I do like about this brigandine is that it is already kinda heavy. And it's only about half way done! It will help add to the feel of the costume. Cool! So far:

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Caspian Main

Okay, lots of work on this costume without finished products. Well, at least you can see the in-progress pictures. First, the pants. I found some mustard brown cotton at Hobby Lobby and made a simple pair of elastic waist long pants. Simple and straight. I had my brother try on the pants and then marked right above his knee for the lowest button to be. I then marked all the buttons (I'm used 6 on each side) two inches apart. Used gold paint to make the "embroidery" on the sides in between each button and further up the leg even past the buttons:
I had some buttons on hand but they weren't quite right. The far left is what they started out as, the middle is after I spray-painted them gold, and the right is the finished product with black marker in the cracks. I like them:

And here is the finished side of the pants. I'm pleased! My brother, however, said they were Aladdin pants and sang "A Whole New World" the entire time. *sigh*

Now the brigandine. *Huge sigh* Goodness, this is hard work. Okay, back to square one which was like three weeks ago. I'm using black fun foam to make overlapping rectangles to look like his.

First, cut the fun foam into strips that are 8 inches by 2.5 inches. Cut tons.
Then glue them together overlapping not quite half way.
I glued 8 strips together. I made red marks on my board so I would keep each set of strips the same measurements. You can faintly see them at 26 inches and about every 1.25 inches.
After that, I slathered everything with watered-down glue. I tried to get extra glue in the cracks so each new strip wouldn't show up that much. I also made sure the glue wasn't allowed to dry smooth. I stippled it after it had barely set to add texture. So here's the strip sets. The one in the bottom right has been spray-painted black and brown. I think when I do it for sure I'll only use black and midnight blue.
Now, these pieces are no where near finished. Sad but true. I then cut some of the pieces into 1.75 inch strips lengthwise. This will be for the chest part. I didn't cut all the pieces because the skirt pieces are almost triangular shaped. Anyway, the strips (these are cut before being glued all over- glue first!):
The theory is that once they are all assembled, I'll glue the strips to the fabric brigandine (below) and space then 1/8 inch apart. I'll put extra glue to fill in the cracks. Then I'll spray paint everything. Probably multiple times. Once I like the color, I'll put in millions of rivets (they are already the perfect color so I don't want to risk them getting sprayed by putting them on earlier). I tested a few strips with spraying and riveting and I think it works. I was going to get a picture, but for the life of me, I can't find that test piece. If I find it I'll get a picture.

The fabric brigandine. No pattern. I made my brother try on Peter's Brown Tunic for size. It was a little too big because I wanted the brigandine to fit fairly snug. So I cut a slightly smaller version out of this fake black vinyl leather. I had my brother come over yesterday and try it on. I adjusted it a little made some darts in the back (but no darts in the front). Today, I cut out the skirt part and he's coming over this afternoon to see if the skirt works. If it does, I'll start applying the fun foam tonight! Hooray! Oh, another note. I tried gluing the fun foam to the black vinyl side but the glue doesn't stick. So I'm turning the vest inside out and gluing the foam to the fabric-y/felt-y underside. That way the inside of the brigandine will look nice too! Here's the only picture of the vest so far:

Right now it looks like a sketchy biker vest. Ew. Well, at least I've made progress. Whew, this was a long post. I think I'll go calm myself by watching Pirates of Penzance for the millionth time.

Caspian Coronation

Here's the progress on Caspian's Coronation Outfit. I already finished the green undershirt so I've been working on the overtunic. I didn't have a cream diamond matelasse so I just used a cream jacquard that I had on hand. I also found some greenish fabric that I completely lined it in. The front will button the same way as Peter's Brown Tunic. I made it so it will be about mid-thigh length and split it up the sides for movement. I used a sleeve pattern I had on hand and just guessed where to put the sleeve slit. The sleeve cuff will be the hardest part so I'll post on that soon. Here's the progress so far:

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Okay so my 'Peter' came over today to try on his Peter Outfit. I even got a picture.

I guess it's okay. I was kinda disappointed that the tunic was so large - I made it to his size! But the width is okay with a belt (he will have a better belt). The thing that's really annoying me is the shoulders. My Peter sadly does not have super broad shoulders so it look a little big. But I've already got the grommets on there and the lacing. I thought about trying to take a big pintuck right at the edge of the bias tape and then maybe you wouldn't see it. Anybody have any ideas on that? I might also make the blue shirt a little shorter.

Then my 'Caspian Coronation' tried on his undershirt and it was fine. I had only cut out the overtunic so I just kinda draped it on him and realized that I would have to take the sides in about 8 inches. I made the Small! I hate pattern discrepancies.

Then my 'Caspian Main' tried on his white shirt again and I hated it. It was about 8 inches too short (my brother is 6'6") and the sleeves were not poofy enough. So I'll rip that one up and try again. Also his brigandine (which I haven't cut out yet) will need quite a few fittings because it sits so close to the body.

Of course, the entire time I was trying to fit the costumes, the guys were making fun of my cuirass (and its inherent skankiness) and quoting some Zelda saying about 'hero of time' using my pauldons and gauntlets. *sigh*

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Peter's Brown Tunic

Okay, today I finished Peter's Brown Tunic. I bought bias tape at Hobby Lobby - Extra Wide Double Fold (the smaller size for sleeves and neckline) and Quilt Binding (for the front) in Mocha color. Just topstitched it on.

For the sleeve embroidery, I made this pattern last night:
It's not exact but who cares? Then I drew this design on my sleeves with a dressmakers pencil:

And then machine stitched along the lines in a dark gold thread:
It doesn't have the detail of the original but, again, who cares? I found six cheap black buttons at Hobby Lobby. I spray painted them metallic gold - a nice thin coat so some of the black showed through. Then I added the buttons down the middle. I wanted to button to be in the middle of the tunic like his so I put the button on an elastic cord and sewed it down so it was suspended over the opening. Then I got another elastic cord (that would just barely go around the button) and sewed a loop on the other side. It totally worked! You can see the stitching on the bias tape but, again, who cares? (I'm going to be saying that a lot with this costume!)
Then I did the lacing at the top of the shoulder. I cheated and used grommets instead of handsewn eyelets. There are five grommets in the tunic part and six on the sleeve part. I kinda guesstimated on how far apart to place them. In hindsight, I could have put the ones on the sleeve part closer together. Oh, well. Then I just spiral laced them with some soft black leather cord that I found at Hobby Lobby. Not too shabby.
So here's two pictures of the finished costume:

Now I just have to hope that it fits my 'Peter'! *crosses fingers*

Friday, April 25, 2008

Little Updates

First, I finally got a picture of Edmund's finished chainmaille:
The lighter section in the middle was not on purpose. I ran out of the darker rings so I had to use the leftover rings from Susan's chainmaille which were lighter. It won't really matter because he's wearing the tunic over it so we won't see that part.

Next, I added two inches to the length of my Susan sleeves (curse of being tall) and finished the back of Susan's cuirass. I just attached the straps to each other randomly. I also tied string and cord in different places for a little more detail.
To get in and out, I think she has to unlace each strap in the back. Well, that requires someone dressing you. No thank you. I hot-glued hidden snaps on two large straps on the left side. I just have to snap those two shut after lacing. No problem!

Then I worked on Peter's Brown Tunic Outfit. I didn't want to buy brown velvet (which is impossible to find in the almost summer) so I found a brown polyester at Walmart for $1 a yard. I just cut a simple vest and then worked on the sleeves. I used a sleeve pattern I had but realized that the slope of the shoulder 'seam' had to be more defined. So after a draft or two I came up with this:
Here's the not-finished picture:

The blue undershirt is a little too blue but I don't care. For the LWW premiere it was Peter's Camp Outfit. I altered the sleeves and the neckline and now it's Peter Prince Caspian! I call it recycling. =)

To Do for Peter's Brown Tunic:
  • Buy Brown Bias Tape and Attach at Edges
  • Machine Embroider Sleeves
  • Make Holes for Shoulder Lacing
  • Add Buttons Down the Front
  • Try it on my 'Peter' and Hope it Fits!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Susan's Battle Dress Embroidery

Today I "embroidered" the hem of Susan's Battle Dress. I bought some blank stencil sheets at Hobby Lobby and cut out a stencil using this design I made. I then just painted the stencil using my same ol' cheap acrylic gold metallic paint. It took a ton of paint - almost two bottles. I love the result. It might be a little too tall, but I'm super tall so that shouldn't matter!

It's not quite that gold because the red isn't quite that light. It really looks nice. Slowly but surely this dress is getting completed!

Edmund's Armor

I officially finished the pauldrons for Edmund's Battle Outfit. Since the last picture I posted, I scratched a floral-y design on the top layer, added decorative rivets (I'm really liking the rivets! I've used them on every costume!), added a hidden strap at the top to safety pin to the tunic while wearing, and a strap to go under the arm to keep it on. I'm very pleased with the result!
Now I just have to finish the gauntlets and Edmund is done! They are a little to big right now so I just have to trim them down and then attach straps like the pauldrons. And then they are done!

I spray painted these with dark brown paint and then came back and hand painted the accent piece with medium brown acrylic paint. Not bad for fun foam!

Susan's Cuirass

I weathered the cuirass today. I used equal parts black and brown acrylic paint and then watered it down a little. Then I just applied the mixture haphazardly concentrating on the cracks and seams. I did about a 4x4 inch area at a time. I'd smear the paint on and then immediately wipe most of it off with a damp rag. I'm really pleased with the results. It's actually a lot dirtier than the picture shows. It looks very battle-worn which I love! Hooray!

Left To Do for Susan's Battle Outfit:

  • Do 'Embroidery' on Dress Hem
  • Lengthen Dress Sleeves
  • Make Cuirass Straps Attach in Back
  • Add 'Embroidery' to the Top of Cuirass
And I think that's it! Whoo-hoo! I'm so close! That's good because there are only 21 days left!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Susan's Cuirass Details

Okay. I went to Hobby Lobby and found all these thingies to use for the cuirass. The big medallion is a piece of carved wood. I also found metal belt designs, scrap leather, rivets and random buttons that I had on hand.
Then I aged everything. I also over-sprayed some things to make them more antique gold/silver. Here's a medallion with the left side plain and the right side aged with black craft paint in all the crevices.
I found a trim that I had so I took it apart to use the straw strings to tie on my medallions.
I then stared at all my pictures of the cuirass. I scrounged with all my leather scraps, cut up two belts, and created a few medallions. I then laid all the pieces on the cuirass where I wanted them.
I then glued each piece starting for the pieces that are closest to the cuirass. First the two long straps that go over the right shoulder.
Then a short vertical piece for the left side:
Then came the bottom piece. It turned out a little big but oh, well:
Then the top piece with a long down strap on the right side:

Then the long skinny strap that goes across your left shoulder and a skinny strap that cuts horizontally across the middle:

And ta-da! Now I just have to do the back. Much more complicated because I want to be able to get in and out of it easily. I'm thinking about putting some snaps somewhere for ease of entry. I also need to 'age' the cuirass by making it look dirty and worn like the original. I'm thinking dark brown shoepolish, concentrating on getting it in the corners and crevices. Any other ideas?

I'll hopefully finish gluing the back tomorrow. I've almost used an entire bottle of fabric glue. Oh, I also have to put the design across the top of the cuirass. Since the entire cuirass isn't real leather, I can't just make the design as indentations. I'll probably just stencil on a design in a darker brown.

Guys Shirts

I finished the undershirts for Peter's Brown Tunic and Caspian's Coronation. I'll post pictures soon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Susan's Cuirass

I've finished the base of the cuirass. Whoo-hoo! It's made of a fake leather cloth and flat-lined in some fabric I had laying around. The fabric is a little too light but once all the straps get glued on, you won't see much of it. Each seam has 1/4" spiral steel boning and the lacing sites have 1/2" boning. It is a little too loose when I tried it on, but when worn over chainmaille, it should fit beautifully. Now I've just got to find tons of leather scraps and belts to put over it. I guess I'll go by Salvation Army tomorrow to look through their selection of belts. I also need to find some things to be her metal things (can't think of the right word).