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?


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.