Dragoncon 2012: The End

Welcome to the ongoing geeky adventures of the Craft Addict! Yes, more Dragoncon sewing but I think you’ll like this one.

My lovely friend Meredith made a passing comment on the Book of Faces one day about sewing a Star Wars pin-up dress with some sheets she’d bought. The shop had recently gotten in some awesome Star Wars fabric so of course I had to use that comment as inspiration for my own geeky dress.

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If you’re going to be at a convention in Atlanta in the summer, a halter dress is pretty much going to be one of the most comfortable things you can wear. I am beyond happy with how this dress turned out, even though certain parts of it made me want to cuss.

The dress is a modified version of Simplicity 2401. I omitted the straps and lengthened the top of the bodice pieces to make a continuous strap around the back of the neck. I also added darts on the bodice sides to improve the fit of the “cups.” But the biggest modification I made was one that could have been handled differently had I followed my own advice: Make a muslin.

To be fair, I did make a muslin of the bodice portion of the  dress. Where I went astray was in thinking I didn’t need to worry about the skirt. For some reason, I though the skirt was more of an A-line than it actually is — and that resulted in a too-tight dress that looked utterly awful on me.

Fortunately, I had just enough fabric left to cut a third panel for both the front and the back of the dress. After copious amounts of unsewing (including picking out serged seams), I inserted the panels, gathered the top of the skirt to the bodice and a new favorite dress was made. A petticoat underneath adds just the right amount of “oomph.”

And did I mention it has pockets?

I’ve had some random invisible zipper issues with this dress and still need to rip out this zipper and install a new one (which will make the fourth one). But the fit is perfect and it’s super comfortable, too. Not to mention super geeky.

My weekend wasn’t just about wearing cool costumes, though. I also spent a few hours as a panelist with the Costuming Track. Let me tell you, it was one of the most awesome experiences ever. I sat on four different panels: Fabrics & Embellishments, Practical Costuming, From 2D to 3D, and Pattern Drafting Basics. Some of the coolest, most talented people imaginable were seated on those panels and dorky Mary was right there with them. It was surreal! I mean, it’s not every day that you get to hang out with RJ Haddy of SyFy’s Face Off. Well, maybe you do but I don’t. And the room was so full for most of my panels. I wasn’t really paying attention (I was trying to make sure I stayed on topic!) but my awesome Honey did and he was impressed with the crowds.

So many people came up to me during the course of the weekend to tell me how much they enjoyed the panels or thank me for some bit of information I passed on. It just really blew me away. Honestly, I am so lucky to be able to do what I do and getting the chance to pass that along to other people is one of my favorite parts of my job.

Of course, bumping into Dean Cain at Starbucks and having him tell you the Supergirl costume you made your daughter is great is pretty cool, too.

Yep, Dragoncon was pretty awesome this year.


The Return of Dragoncon

You know how a three-day weekend can totally throw off your days? I’m having one of those weeks only it’s compounded by being at Dragoncon for four days. I *think* it’s Wednesday but I certainly wouldn’t swear to it. And don’t bother asking me the date. Clueless.

But, oh, it was worth it.

For those who don’t know: Dragoncon is a four-day pop culture convention. If you’ve ever heard of Comic Con, it’s kind of similar, only it takes place in Atlanta — which means it’s close enough for us to attend and get our geek on.

This year was my most ambitious to date in terms of costumes. Now, wearing costumes isn’t mandatory — but it sure is fun. Except for the sweating part. And the people stepping on my train part. But other than that…it really just kind of adds to the experience, in a random sort of geeking out way.

Anyway.

Costumes. I made two new costumes for Miss L: Supergirl (which I’ve shared previously) and a Steampunk Alice in Wonderland, which was part of a themed set I did that included a costume for me (Queen of Hearts), my son (White Rabbit) and my son’s girlfriend (Mad Hatter). (See what I mean about ambitious?) I also made a Steampunk aquatic traveler costume for myself (but more about that later).

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Now, a themed costume group can be pretty cool but it sort of requires that whole “group” thing. What you see here is evidence that the four of us were, in fact, in the same place, at the same time, for I think about five minutes. The big kids were off doing their thing (as young adults are wont to do), but they at least hunted us down so we could get this picture before they changed into more comfortable street clothes. Miss L and I, however, remained in costume all day.

The Mad Hatter is wearing a high-backed underbust corset made from a pattern by Harlots & Angels. If you are a very experienced corset maker, you might like this pattern. I found it problematic, especially the part about 1/2″ boning. The boning channels in the back are much longer than standard cut bones and finding the right size was a challenge. I ended up swapping out 1/4″ (I had spring steel I could cut to length) and then had to cut off about 3″ of the top back because she is so petite.The skirt is actually the apron-and-bustle portion of Simplicity 1819 as shown on the pattern cover and diagram. Unfortunately, the pattern instructions don’t actually tell you how to make the skirt this way so I had to come up with the steps on my own. I didn’t like how the apron drooped so I added contrasting straps to improve the look. The mini top hat fascinator is a pattern from The Quilted Fish and actually recycled from my 2011 DC costume.

The White Rabbit is wearing a cravat I drafted (just love the Steampunk-y fabric!) and a vest made from Simplicity 2895. I wish you could see the clock face buttons — they are the perfect touch. The ears are cut and shaped leather that I painted and then hot glued to a metal headband. I bought fabric to make pants but never got around to making them.

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My Queen of Hearts includes the Laughing Moon underbust corset made without a busk. I embroidered a steampunk heart design from Urban Threads on the front. The fabric is a beautiful quilter’s tweed by Robert Kaufman. I drafted an easy elastic-waist A-line skirt (red stretch poplin from Joann) with a ruffled hem and made two drawstring channels on the front to add a little interest. Plus I really wanted to show off my Fluevog Babycakes! The crown is lace that was stiffened (thank you, Stiffy, for giving me a giggle every time I looked at the label), spray painted and then hot glued with gears and “gems.” The button down shirt is from Kohls maybe two or three years ago. The gun was made for a costume last year. No, I don’t know why I’m holding it upside down.

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My favorite of the bunch is easily Alice. Big surprise, eh? The peasant top is from my book, although I sized way down and added length because I knew the jumper was going over it. It’s sort of similar to another pattern in the book but I drafted a completely new bodice and skirt piece. (I’m thinking of posting a tutorial — any interest?) On the peek-a-boo underskirt, I stitched a Cheshire Cat design (also from Urban Threads). Some lace from my stash, suspender clip straps and a few well-chosen accessories brought the whole look together.

Once the weather cools off, I plan to take the kids out for a proper photo shoot. (The iPhone is certainly handy but indoor con pics are bleh.) I’m thinking it’ll make a great big piece of art for one of the walls in my studio, don’t you?


Sunday in the Park

For the first time in ten years of living in Atlanta, we attended Sunday in the Park at historic Oakland Cemetery. I don’t think I’d even heard of it until two or three years ago but it really took the urging of my friend Anya to get us there.

There’s no arguing that it seems a little weird to have a festival in a cemetery but this was definitely a festive event. Craft booths, entertainment (including a one-man, 20-minute version of Gone With the Wind), tours, carriage rides, food and even a Victorian costume contest.

We loved it.

Did you catch the part about costumes? That may have played a small role in my decision to drag the family along on a Victorian adventure in a cemetery. Because of my love for all things Regency, I opted to sew a couple of Regency dresses for Miss L and I. Hers is a beautiful robin’s egg blue cotton from the  designer solids line by Westminster. For my dress, I went with a gold jacquard by Robert Kauffman that is so incredibly soft and flowy that I want to hunt down more of it to make in other colors.

Both patterns are from Sense & Sensibility, although mine is the Simplicity version. I had some issues with the sleeve of L’s, although I’m not sure if I did something wrong along the way or if it was something else. The dress is the size 4 in width but a size 6 in length. I thought it might be long enough to add a couple of growth pleats but it turned out to be the perfect length.

My dress is the foundation for my Steampunk costume, so I already knew what I needed to change to get the bodice to fit me better. While my previous costume had a wider skirt (so it would be more gathered in the back), I stuck to the pattern on this one. And wish I’d added the extra width. I ended up ripping out the side seams and adding three inches to each side (I bought the last of the bolt and that was all I could salvage) but it’s still not enough, at least to me.

The bonnet is one of my favorite parts and the first structured hat I’ve ever made. OK, semi-structured. The brim includes buckram and millinery wire, and copious amounts of hand sewing (my left hand is still achy). It’s by Timely Tresses and the style is Julia. In spite of the hand sewing, it actually came together pretty quickly. I really like how it pulls together the look and definitely would make another to coordinate with future costumes.

Next year, I think I’ll try my hand at some Victorian costumes. It’s kind of nice way to spend a Sunday afternon


Get Your Geek On

It wasn’t until after we moved to Atlanta eight years ago that we heard of Dragon*con, the annual Labor Day weekend gathering of sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts and creators. Since Honey and I share a love for many things sci-fi and/or fantasy related, we were eager to go and check out all the event had to offer.

Somehow, we managed to not make it there for eight consecutive years. Sometimes it was a money issue; often, we just had other plans (usually involving out-of-town trips to see family).

This year, however, we finally made it down there, and all I can say is WOW.

The event was expected to attract about 30,000 people to downtown Atlanta this weekend, many of them wearing some type of costume or fan wear. It was incredibly overwhelming and fairly overstimulating for me. There’s just so much to see at once and the volume level is unreal. I’ve been home about two hours now and my head still feels all poundy, like I went to a concert and stood too close to the amps. Still, it was an amazing experience and we’re already making plans to go next year.

We did not pre-register and I won’t do that again because it meant standing in line for an hour to just pay and get our badges. But within about two minutes of walking through the door, I saw one of my earliest fantasy fiction heroes, Anne McCaffrey.  She was sitting outside one of the halls, singing autographs. Anne McCaffrey! Signing autographs!

Other celeb sightings? Walter Koening of Star Trek and Babylon5 fame, as well as one of the dudes from Ghosthunters. Don’t ask me what his name is; I don’t watch that show. But my dad does and is a huge fan (I have no idea why; I’m just glad I didn’t inherit his crappy taste in TV) so I took a picture of the back of his head.

As neat as the celebrities are, though, the really cool thing is to just people watch. I saw two Sweeney Todds, a platoon of Storm Troopers, his-and-hers Darth Vaders, the coolest Wizard of Oz quartet ever (Dorothy was MIA) and a flotilla of pirates, all of whom my daugher had to greet and ask if they were married. There also were a number of … interesting costumes, which a huge number of male attendees found creative and inspiring. I don’t have the body to wear a chain-mail thong bikini but I can’t imagine it’s comfortable.

I’m not sure how thrilled Honey is with my plans for next year (“We’re going every day! And different costumes every day! And you’re going to wear a combat kilt!”) but I know we’re both ready to make Dragon*con an annual tradition.


A Pirate, a Princess, a Highlander and … Jane Austen?

My sweetie pie cousin and her honey came for a visit again this weekend, this time so we could all go to the RenFest. While the weather has been pretty nice all week, it rained yesterday. On and off. All day.

Any plans I had to take lots of great pictures at the RenFest were dashed, since I didn’t have much interest in ruining my 30D. We did manage to snap a couple of pictures in the parking lot before heading inside. Gotta love that scenic backdrop! LOL!

My cousin does Civil War re-enactments and alos likes to attend the occasional Renaissance festival, so she’s got an extensive costumer wardrobe. I love her pirate ensemble. You can’t see them but she’s got the coolest boots and fishnets on. Her sweetie bought his kilt and sporan during their vacation in Scotland a couple of years ago. He even grew the beard just for the occasion! (It was Scots & Kilts weekend at the RenFest.)

I asked Miss L if she wanted to be a pirate or a princess for the trip. “I want to be a princess pirate,” she declared. A peasant top (from her Halloween costume), pink tiered skirt, sash and flowered crown later — ta da!

And then there’s me, all decked out in my Regency era finest. I have been wanting to do some Regency sewing for some time (and this most definitely will be the first of many for both me and the little missy), and since many people where all kinds of costumed dress at the RenFest, I figured “why not?” The pattern is by Sense & Sensibility; the fabric is a cotton/linen blend from Joann’s. I love it! It’s very comfortable, although I do wish I’d made the sleeve bands just a teensy bit wider. Also, I have not yet made a set of stays for underneath, so I had to wear a sports bra to get the bodice to fit even close to the proper way. Which meant I spent much of the day fighting to get the straps hidden under the neckline.

This was the first time I’ve ever dressed up to attend the Ren Fest and I think it won’t be my last. It was just such fun and really added to the experience. I’m already thinking ahead to next year and what I can make for the kids to wear. Now if I can just get Honey to agree to wear a kilt …