Saturday, October 10, 2009

Owl Baby Costume

I'm not the only one who needs a costume this Halloween: my daughter does too! The only one she has is her medieval tunic and it was already tight at the beginning of September. It's a 6 month and she has gone from fitting in 6 month to being tight in 9 month sized clothes in a month!

As her pet name is Chouette (Owl), I promised my Sweetheart I would make her an owl costume months ago. And lucky for me, it fits into Nancy-Raven's party theme: she can either be Athena's Owl (my Sweetheart has suggested I go as Athena and he could be Odysseus - that would make a nice family costume theme), or she could be Blodeuwedd in her owl shape; either way, it works.

And so for research: I began googling "Baby Owl Costume" and found this adorable one:

It is adorable and seems very well made, but I want a snowy owl. So inspired by that one, I have bought her a white velour coverall as a base, and I intend to make a white and gray version of the above costume using Simplicity 2788, View C (the Lady Bug) as a base.

From that pattern, I can easily modify the wings' shape to fit my needs, make a round hat to which I can attach an owl's face, and of course, add bands of "feathers".

And for her feet...

Aren't they adorable? They were suggested to me by my friend Sciath. I got them from eBay (again with eBay) for a total of 10.94$ CAD, and they have become my baby's everyday/outing shoes.

That is what I'll be working on for the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more updates.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"It's not easy being green!"

Kermit sang it, "It's not easy being green". For Halloween 2007, I wanted to impress everyone at work with an amazing costume. An impressive costume. One that would match my body shape. I went for Princess Fiona the Ogre.

I had fallen in love with her dress in Shrek (2001), but I wasn't sure how or if I would find a green velvet with gold motif. And by then, I also had Shrek II (2004) and Shrek the Third (2007) to pick dresses from. So I decided to let the people decide and I started a poll amongst my friends to let them vote for the dress I would make, and the unanimous choice was the Shrek II version (it figures; it is the one with the most details).

Once again, hours were spent in research by looking at as many pictures and videos as I could find. I wanted to make my costume as screen accurate as possible.

I ended up making it in green stretch velvet, using blue gray taffeta for the skirt panels, sleeves slits, belt, neckline and cuffs. Instead of satin stitching the brass accents, I bought a gold lace trim, which saved me some time and made my life easier (because, of course, I finished making my costume on October 31st, at 2 AM). For the brass dots you can see on the belt, neckline and cuffs, I used decorative brass fabric nails.

Princess Fiona the Ogre in Shrek II (2004)

Fabrics were not the only thing I needed to make this costume perfect. I found lime green socks to cover my feet and I bought green velvet shoes from eBay.

The jewelry was made out of Fimo, spray painted gold, with Deco Art Liquid Rainbow paint for the red enamel accents. Everything hangs from gold cord.

I made a crown and ears out of fun foam. I used the thicker kind for the crown, stapled it close in the back and spray painted it gold, before gluing a red jewel to the front. For the ears, I used thin fun foam and I painted them with a mixture of green paint and glue.

I bought a red haired wig on eBay (it came from Hong Kong and it is one of the best and most comfortable wigs I own - I find it looks so natural that I have considered wearing it out, for the fun of changing my hair in a non-permanent way) to which I pin my crown and ears.

Finally, the biggest difference between the Princess Fiona human and ogre versions, other than the waistline, the skin colour. I couldn't find the right colour of green make-up at my local arts and crafts store, so I had to order it from eBay (I love shopping on eBay). I wear Snazaroo face paint in Lime Green. To get the perfect effect, I also wear Wet N' Wild MegaEyes® Eyeshadow Trio in Amazon Green, auburn red brow pencil, pink blush and pink lipstick. Oh, and let's not forget the hands: I paint my nails lime green and I wear my grandmother's wedding band.

Now I know you're dying to know what the end result looks like, so Ta-da!

Gwenyver's Princess Fiona Costume, Halloween 2007

What do you think? I hate to brag, but It is in my humble opinion, one of the best Fiona costumes I've seen!

(I know you can see my ear and you shouldn't, but I wear a headset to answer the phone and I forgot to fix my hair before taking pictures.)

I was so proud, I thought I would be super original, but it turned out, every girl's nightmare came true for me on this day: someone from accounting also dressed up as Fiona!

Fiona vs Fiona, Halloween 2007

OK, once again I hate to brag, but darn I look good!

The only thing I am not fully satisfied with is the crown. It's too high. But that's OK, my cat took care of of the problem recently: he chewed on it, so now I have to make a new one and I can make it the right height this time. (Thank you G'Kwan for being so helpful!)

Last year, l'Alliance Impériale was invited to Le Grand Festival d'Halloween à Blainville and I went as Fiona. For the first time since I've started Trooping with them, my costume was as popular as the Clone Trooper armours. Lots of little girls wanted their picture taken with me, and I had a few women telling me I was their favorite character or princess. There even was this one dad who shooed his wife and kids away to quickly snap a picture with me!

Gwenyver as Princess Fiona, Le Grand Festival d'Halloween à Blainville, 2008

If you calculate quickly, you will realize I was 24 weeks pregnant when this picture was taken, and my baby kept kicking me almost the whole time (she is a kicker to this day!).

Fiona in Far Far Away

I might have played around in Photoshop a little. But it looks fun!

I have to say, that is one of my best costumes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Costumes in Fashion: Tim Burton's Magical Fashion

From November 22, 2009 to April 26, 2010, The New York Museum of Modern Art will be presenting an retrospective exhibition dedicated to Tim Burton's career as a director, producer, writer, and concept artist for live-action and animated films.

In honour of this upcoming exhibition, Harper's Bazaar has published Tim Burton's Magical Fashion, a groovy-spooky fashion spread art directed by the man himself, Tim Burton. And all this in time for Halloween! (Ah, the magick of editing!)

This is not something I would normally show, because, as I have stated numerous times, I am not a fan of scary, gory movies or Halloween costumes and decors, but if designers such as Ferragamo, Jean Paul Gaultier, Gucci, Alexander McQueen (well I'm not really surprised by this one, after all, McQueen's fashion shows are more costumes than clothes), Rodarte and Yves Saint Laurent are ready to join the project, who am I to disagree?

Note: All pictures featured in this post were borrowed from Harper's Bazaar: Tim Burton's Magical Fashion and are by Tim Walker.

"It's showtime!"

Shutterbugs and Scissor Hands

Glamour-Puss in Boots

"Did you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?"

Burton Suits Up

You shouldn't have followed the rabbit, Alice!

Fashion Attacks!

Good Girl Gone Dead

You are such a Clown!

Skeletons in the Closet

Mummy! Mummy!

Corpse Bride

What is a girl to do?

Do you feel the Halloween spell creeping into your house? Have you found the inspiration you needed to get your costume ready? Better still, have you got your costume yet? (I still can't make up my mind!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Selkie Costume

Have you found your Halloween party costume yet? I've made up my mind about what to wear at the party I'm throwing (I'll wear my Dark Maiden Dress), but now I have to decide what to make for Nancy-Raven's Party.

As previously mentioned, every year since she's moved in with her honey,
Nancy-Raven throws a Halloween Party. Last year, she introduced the idea of a theme for the costumes, so we had a Roaring 20's Party. But as not all of her guests are as costume inclined as we are, some complained that the theme was too difficult (although everyone showed up in an appropriate costume, so I don't know what they were complaining about).

So this year, the theme is Myth and Legends of the World (the idea being that the theme has enough possibilities to please everyone).

But now, I don't know what to wear. I have too many ideas! And Nancy-Raven refuses to tell me what her costume is. (I guess she wants it to be a surprise, but I'm curious and I want to know!)

One idea is a Selkie costume. I've wanted to make one for 10 years! Ever since my trip to Scotland, where I learned about Selkies at the Highland Mystery World theme park in Glencoe (there was a woman dressed as a Selkie who told us a story in a very dramatic way - sadly, I don't remember it because I was busy studying her costume).

Selkies - The Seal People

For those of you who don't know, Selkies are magickal creatures of the sea who have the appearance of seals in the water, but who can shed their skins and transform into beautiful men and women when they come ashore. It is said that if a man can find and hide a Selkie's skin, he can get her to marry him, but if she ever finds her skin, she will disappear back in the sea.

A Selkie taking off her skin

For the costume, I want to make a faux seal skin, not unlike the faux donkey skin I wish to make for a Peau d'Âne costume, to wear as a cloak. For the head, I think I could get away with a hood to which I would add a snout and eyes.

As inspiration for the seal's head, I found this picture:

Woman in seal costume lying on bed

As for what I would wear underneath, I was thinking of a short tunic, very plain, made of Indian cotton, in either teal or green. I would also like to find a wide mesh scarf to tie around my waist. I want the outfit to look like it's been made from things found in the sea, such as seaweed, sails from shipwrecks and fisherman's net.

Dragonarium's Labyrinth of Jareth 2008 Selkie Costume

During my research, I found one person who had made a Selkie costume. Hers included a simple white shift and a seal skin brat that she wore on her shoulder.

I guess if I make a Selkie costume for Nancy-Raven's Party (or whenever I get around to making it), I can be pretty certain to be the only one dressed like that. That is a very good thing, because there is nothing worse for a girl than showing up at a party wearing the same thing as another girl!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My version of Arwen's Dying Gown or Beach Blond Arwen

I have decided to use October to show you as many of my costumes as possible, as inspiration for potential Halloween parties. Since I showed you my Arwen Dying Gown on Saturday, I figured I should tell you more about it.

The main thing you should know about this dress is that it was my first serious recreation and it is the project that really got me hooked to making quality costumes, whether historical, fantasy or reproductions, on a regular basis. Before then, I had made a couple of good costumes, but nothing like this one.

The first time I saw
Arwen's Dying Gown (also known as Blood Red Dress) in picture, I knew I wanted to make it. It was so dramatic, it made a statement. It looked terribly complicated and extremely simple at the same time. Liv Tyler looked regal in it.

I made this dress for the Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The return of the King (2003). As per my habit, I had been planning to make the dress to wear in December since about February, yet I started three days before the Premiere (and I finished about four hours before leaving for the theatre). Unfortunately, I have no pictures of me in the dress at the theatre because my mother wouldn't allow me to bring my camera (and she wasn't even coming with us!)

Gwenyver's Arwen Dying Gown, Costume Photo Shoot at Nancy-Raven's, August 2004

I am very proud of this dress. I did a ton of research*, looked at all the pictures and read all the comments to get it just right (though in the end, there was no way I was going to find the exact paisley fabric and antique trim, so I had to compromise).

*The best place for research about any LOTR costumes is Lord of the Rings Costume at Alley Cat Scratch.

"I can feel it in the trees", Costume Photo Shoot at Nancy-Raven's, August 2004

Although the cutting and sewing process only began a few days before the event, material gathering was well underway month before.

For the bodice and sleeves, I used very lovely and expensive Chinese satin brocade. It is red with small gold and black flowers and Chinese characters (I suppose). Now this kind of fabric frays a lot, so I lined the bodice with polyester lining (inexpensive, but very hot!).

The lower sleeves are made of a red stretch velvet that I found on sale in July (and never saw again afterward). As soon as I spotted it I just knew it was THE fabric I needed. The under dress' skirt is made of black satin (the most inexpensive one I could find).

I wanted for the under dress to possibly be worn alone, although I have never done so. The skirt also helps balance the weight of the sleeves (some costumers who have made this dress decided to save on fabric and only make bodice, but apparently, the huge hanging sleeves causes pulling problems).

For the over dress, I used black stretch velveteen. I know the original was a midnight blue silk velvet, but to tell the truth, I didn't think it would look that good with the red fabrics I had. The stretch velveteen has two advantages: I can pull the over dress over my head, so one less zipper, and it is much cheaper than real velvet (I kind of busted my budget on the Chinese brocade, but it was worth it).

The trims I choose were not screen accurate, but I thought they were perfect enough for my taste (besides, they are the best I could find at the time). For the upper sleeve hem, the under dress' neckline and the overdress' shoulder pieces, I used a two inches wide gold Christmas ribbon with tiny red diamonds (the great thing about Christmas ribbon is you can get a whole roll for a very decent price). For the upper sleeves, I also used some leftover gold lace trim from another costume. The over dress' neckline is trimmed with a Christmas ¾ inch brocade ribbon that is red with a gold vine like design.

Gwenyver's Arwen Dying Gown - Back view, Costume Photo Shoot at Nancy-Raven's, August 2004

To achieve the right look, I had to play mix and match and modify with a few patterns. (Simplicity had not yet marketed their version, Simplicity 4940.)

In order to use as little of the Chinese brocade as possible, I decided the under dress would be an empire waist. I used McCall’s 4213, view B as a basis for the bodice and upper sleeves. I then shortened the sleeves and I modified the neckline to suit my needs.

For the under dress' skirt, I used Butterick 5540. It is mid calf in length, because it had to be long enough to balance out the weight of the lower sleeves, yet I did not want it accidentally showing from under the over dress.

The lower sleeves are what defines this dress. After quite a lot of reflexion, I decided I wanted to make them full circles (on the original dress, they are half circles). In order for them to reach my ankles, they would need to be 150 cm in diameter. Unfortunately, the fabric I bought was only 115 cm wide. I did not want a seam in the sleeves, so I ended up making them elliptical in shape. The ellipse is 265 cm in length and 115 cm wide at its largest part. Believe me when I say those sleeves are heavy!

The over dress is made with Simplicity 9103, view B, which I lengthened to make it floor length. I also modified the neckline so it would resemble the original more.

Gwenyver's Arwen Dying Gown, Con*Cept 2004

One of the nicest compliment I ever got was while I was wearing this dress. It was as Montréal's La Grande Mascarade (back in 2005) and one of the guys from l'Alliance Impériale said to me: "Seriously, you weren't born in the right time period, because this style just looks too good on you". How sweet is that?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Movie Monday: Michael Jackson's This Is It

If you're going to get a Michael Jackson costume for Halloween, you might as well wear it to go see his last movie, Michael Jackson's This Is It, coming out in theatres on October 28th. It is a documentary presenting behind the scene footage of the show that was supposed to be presented at London's O2 Arena.

Ah, the joys of Capitalism: you can make money off of everything if you know how and death is very lucrative, especially for stars!

I'm sorry to be so sarcastic, but seriously, no one liked him the last years of his life. He had fallen from grace in the public's eyes, and now everyone wants a piece of him? It's a little sick. Let him rest in peace, for crying out loud. Let his children grieve and move on. Let us remember him respectfully, and lets get over it!

Yet somehow, I guess that is what the King of Pop wanted; to win all of our hearts back. It's just sad that he had to die for it to happen.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sweet Cake Costumes

My favorite Blog out there is unequivocally Cake Wrecks. It could be due to my sweet tooth. Or it could be due to Jen Yates' witty comments. Whatever the reason, I read it everyday.

I was first introduced to Cake Wrecks by Nancy-Raven, herself a baker, who is more often than not appalled by what she calls "an embarrassment to the profession".

After a year of daily Cake "Wreckations", Jen has presented the world with her book, Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong.

She is currently touring the U.S. to promote her book with her husband John. With them in mind, knowing their love of cake and Cosplay (lucky them, they got to go to Dragon*Con), I thought I could show my support by looking around to find some cake costumes. And lo and behold, I found some.

First, we have the pre-packaged, cute and sexy, vaguely cake-inspired costume:

(I guess we could say she went through the cake...)

Then, there is the Mascot Cake costume (but it does not come cheap - sale price of 769$!):

Better than the two previous ones is this next one:

It helps that the model is adorable. I found this one on a website called Coolest Homemade Halloween Costume Ideas and they have a collection of homemade cake and cupcake costumes. The one I've presented to you was made by Tracey C. of Smithville, OH, and she used 1/2" thick foam, cardboard, various trimmings and a battery-operated Christmas candle (for the hat), for a total of 15$ USD. I Love it. I like it better than the 800$ mascot costume.

Finally, and this is my favorite, I found this dress:

It was made by Jan Saathoff of A Stitch in Time, a professional costume designer from Austin, TX. It is lovely. It brings images of summer dresses and a ballet tutus to my mind.

These have got to be the best cakes for costumers: no calories!

Best wishes to Jen and John Yates on their Cake Wrecks "World" Tour!

Edit: I have learned that the book tour has been cancelled due to both Jen and John being sick (John is still in critical condition). I guess this post will have to act as a "Get Well Soon" message to them, instead.