Saturday, October 31, 2009

Myth and Legend of the World - Circe Costume

I finally made up my mind as to what to wear to Nancy-Raven's party about a week ago, but I wanted to keep the surprise. I've decided to go as Circe. My ultimate inspiration was this John William Waterhouse painting, which I showed you when I talked about the local Waterhouse Museum Exhibition:

Circe Invidiosa: Circe Poisoning the Sea, John William Waterhouse, 1892, Oil on canvas, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

As I mentioned then, this costume fits in with the idea my Sweetheart had of all of us going as characters from Homer's Odyssey.

Busy as I was preparing for Fall Harvest and making my daughter's Owl costume, this was a marvelous idea because I could re-use a Greek inspired costume I made for Pennsic XXXVI's Grand Ball.

Gwenyver (a.k.a. Mórag), Grand Ball, Pennsic XXXVI

The costume consists of a leaf green, Indian cotton Chiton and a teal cotton Himation decorated with a black and gold Greek Key patterned trim. The top part of the Chiton is sewn at regular intervals and there are decorative gold (plastic) buttons at each of these seams.

As Circé's mother is said to be an Oceanid, the watery palette is perfect!

Gwenyver as Circé holding her cup of honeyed wine

Can you believe no one took any pictures at Nancy-Raven's party? This picture was taken once I got home so I would have something to show you, my faithful readers. I grabbed a wine class to hold as a prop for the picture.

Since my baby likes to grab necklaces and earrings, I wore none for the night. I did however wear the two golden metal bracelets (she loved banging on them). These are Naegle bracelets from Aldo. At the beginning of the summer, they were sold for 23$ CAD each. I bought them on sale for 2 for 7.21$ CAD. Gotta love a good deal!

Circe is said to have golden curls. Great, I already have blond hair. But to get any kind of twist or spring to my hair, the only technique that has been proven to work is rag curls. The result was not all that great, so I started pinning through my hair to get some sort of an up-do, and lo and behold, I got the perfect Antiquity look. I just added a headband of three pleather golf braids (which I found at the Dollar store) and I was good to go.

I have to wrap things up. I have guests coming tonight to celebrate Samhain with us and I'm not done cleaning. I promise to take more pictures tonight.

You can see what I finally decided to wear for Halloween night. (Which one do you think I'll go for?)

Friday, October 30, 2009

My Little Owl Baby Costume

For most of the week, I have been working on my daughter's Halloween costume. As I previously mentioned (here), I have been planning it for many months, and as usual, I'm doing it last minute. Well, at least I finished it this morning for Nancy-Raven's party, which is tonight (as opposed to say, 5 minutes before leaving for said party).

Originally, I wanted to use
Simplicity 2788 as a base for the costume, but as luck would have it, when I went to buy the fabric and pattern, this pattern was sold out. So this is what I used instead:

McCall's 5648

I know, it looks nothing like a costume yet, but trust me. What I wanted was some sort of puffy romper and that did very well. I made View D out of white poplin.

For the "feathers", I used one of the numerous frozen juice can tops I have lying around as a base and I drew myself a pattern.

"Feather" and pattern

I cut 42 individual "feathers". I then over-locked the top edge in white and the curved edge in lilac (as it is a cartoonish owl costume for a little girl, I made it lilac and white). Then I pinned each feather in place on the front of the romper, before sewing them on one at a time.

I also made a pair of padded wings which are sewed in the back of the romper. I had to "wing" the pattern (pun completely intended). I used one of my baby's sweaters as a base and I drew them directly on the fabric. I added a tie on each to attach the wings to each sleeves.

Here is what the owl romper looked like:

Feathered Owl Romper

Then I needed a hat. While I was looking for a new pattern to use, I found this one which included an owl costume:

Simplicity 2527

I used the hat pattern in view C which I made in lilac poplin, the same fabric used for the wings, and I padded it.

To go with the cartoonish look, I wanted to add a pair of owl eyes to the hat. I made a pattern for them using a frozen juice can tops, a pill bottle (which I use to store sequins - very practical) and a small thread bobbin. I added two centimetres all around, one of which being for the seam allowance.

Owl Eyes Pattern

The irises and pupils were quilted on the white eye piece. The whole thing is also padded. I then fixed the finished eyes piece on the hat by hand.

Baby Owl Hat

And this is the finished costume:

Lilac and White Baby Owl Costume

My daughter will be wearing the romper over a white velour coverall. I made it in the largest size the pattern had, so with a bit of luck, it will still fit her next year, say, for Otakuthon?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Oonan the Twi’lek

One creature that has always fascinated me in Star Wars are Twil’eks. The female Twi’leks are considered very beautiful and are bought by many rich males of other races as slaves (mostly sex slaves) to show off to the other males just how powerful they are. Of course, what I really liked in this costume was the lekku (head tails) and the idea of wearing lots of make-up (full face and hands - I'm too modest to go for full body make-up). But still, what woman would not like to feel desired, even by a bunch of Star War geeks!

My Twi’lek is not a character from any movies or the extended universe. I made her up. I even invented her a little story: Oonan works in a bar on Coruscant, entertaining customer. She belongs to the bar’s owner and is above nothing to please the customers and be rewarded by her master, even seducing Boba Fett or throw her arms around a Trooper.

The costume in general is inspired by the one worn by Ann and Tann Gella, the Twi'lek twins owned by Sebulba (Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace - 1999) and Oola, one of Jabba the Hutt's dancers (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi - 1983).

Gwenyver as Oonan the Twi'lek, 2005


The “skin” is a bodysuit made of stretchy turquoise fabric that has a slight leathery finish. I used Jalie pattern #945 (view C) as a base and I lengthened the sleeves and legs, I changed the neckline and added a zipper to the back.


The head piece was invented as I went. I made the lekku as two 1 metre long by 30 cm large triangles in the same stretchy turquoise fabric I used for the “skin”. In between the lekku, there is a rounded "hat" piece, which consists of two half circles 15 cm large by 20 cm wide. The lekku are stuffed and heavy so to get them to hold on my head I added an elastic around the edge (making them look strangely like a pair of tights) and a white velvet decorative elastic with little diamonds that goes under my chin.

Bone Crest & Cuffs

The Bone Crest and cuffs are made from leftover white and silver stretch fabric.

For the Bone Crest, I calculated the circumference of my head, where my ears were and how high they were to draw it right. I cut two and made the ears on the top piece by cutting holes, satin stitching around it and loosely tacking a piece of of turquoise "skin" fabric inside. I had originally wanted to stuff the ears but it looked to Smurf-like to I took the stuffing out. In the back, there are four eyelets so I can lace it up with a black cord. I decorated the Bone Crest with four medium sized plastic diamonds and made a badge of the Alliance Impériale logo with Fimo and silver spray paint.

The wrist cuffs are plain bands of fabric that close thanks to a big silver snap button.

Sexy Oonan, 2005

Clothes & Shoes

The clothes are made of sport mesh. I used Simplicity 9688 view B as a base for the top, adding the low cut in the front, and McCall’s 4261 view E for the pants, for which I made the legs longer and wider to give them a bell bottom shape. I used silver cord to tie both the pants and top.

The shoes are white platform sneakers from my Spice Girls period.


I went around with a swatch of my fabric looking for the perfect make-up for a couple of days. I couldn't find perfection pre-packages, so I mixed Mehron liquid make-up in Blue, Yellow and White to cover my face, neck and hands. On the pictures, my make-up kept flaking away - I looked like a Twi’lek with a very bad sunburn. Now, I add a little Mehron liquid latex to the mix and it looks a lot better. Whatever it says on the bottle, full face make-up will stain clothes, shoelaces, carpets and whatever else it comes in contact with. You might want to think of a “Careful, Wet Paint” sign to put around your neck. Oh, and do bring straws if you intend to drink anything.

For the finishing touches, I ended up finding the perfect match with Cover Girl. I use Continuous Color 3 in 1 nail polish in electric blue (#132) for my nails (obviously), CG Eye Slicks in aqua flash (#420) as a lipstick and for my eyes and L’Oréal Rouge Pulp in Revealing (#13) to give my lips a glossier look.

Oonan's Rebel Legion Creature Card

This was my first technically screen accurate Star Wars costume. I say technically because as I previously mentioned, this is a made-up character, but the attributes are inspired by the movie version of Twi'leks. It was made in a week for my first Alliance Impériale trooping event, a Spaghetti Dinner for the Laval Police Department, which was a family event. People there thought I was Diva Plavalaguna from The Fifth Element (1997). Hum.

Not everyone is as geeky as I am.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Weekly Wishlist: Padmé's Purple Senate Gown

While we're on the subject of Star Wars costume, let me continue the theme by presenting another Padmé dress on my wishlist: Padmé's Purple Senate Gown.

There is a definite 16th century feel to the dress. Just look at the silhouette, the neckline and the sleeves. Of course, the necklace and headdress are more African in inspiration.

Once again, all the information one might need to make this costume can be found at The Padawan's Guide, including tips on how to make the costume.

You can also go to The Force.Net. On the Jedi Coucil's Costume and Props forum, there is a thread about Padmé's Purple Dress. Back in the spring, a group of costumers were organizing to order the fabric for the coat. I don't have 120$ lying around right now, but I know where to look when I do!

And as per my habit, I would use blond braids to make the headdress, to keep up my "blondification" of my favorite costumes.

If you have read yesterday's post, you might have seen the name Kay-Dee pop-up a few times. Kay-Dee has made a near perfect recreation of the original costume. See for yourself:

This picture only shows you a glimpse of all the work she put on that costume. You must check out her website to see all of the details. Seriously, it is impressive.

Kay-Dee, know that I admire your skills and patience.
Note: Kay-Dee is the one who told me about the group order on the Jedi Coucil's forum. Thank you Kay-Dee!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My version of Padmé’s Picnic Dress (or Beach Blond Padmé)

Once upon a time, I had time to work on crazily detailed costumes (before I had a kid, or had weeks filled with full time work, full time school, dance classes and volunteer work for a theatre troupe). Let us go back in time, about a year before the last Star Wars came out in theatres (meaning 2004 as Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith came out in May 2005). I, like any girl or die hard Star Wars fan, started wondering what to wear. After many months of wondering, and drooling on the beautiful pictures of Padmé's costume over at The Padawan's Guide, I decide to go for Padmé’s Picnic Dress.

At first, I told myself I would make something simple, using the Simplicity pattern inspired by that dress.

Simplicity 5843

But then, I started looking at what other fans had made, and the more I looked, the more I thought, "well I could do that...", and to make a long story short, I ended up doing detailed replica “with a twist” (I always like to make my costumes with little personal touch, more me so to speak). For one thing, did not want to use a wig or dye my hair (I did enough dyeing with this project anyways), so it can be classified as a "Beach Blond" project (although technically, I'm more of a strawberry blond).

One of the best fan made reproduction of that dress is by Obi-Dawn (who's website was on Geocities and has therefore closed - damn you Yahoo!). I exchanged many e-mails with her and she very graciously helped me by sharing all her tips and the details of how she made her own dress.

Obi-Dawn's fabulous Padmé’s Picnic Dress reproduction

Isn't it amazing? (Obi-Dawn, if you read this and you have a new website, please contact me so I can add the proper linkage).

And now on to the long and detailed description of the making of my own Padmé Picnic Dress.

Close-up of my homemade Yellow Sequined Fabric

This is a part of this dress I originally thought I would just cut and sew. How wrong I was. Pattern wise, I used McCall’s 4090 view A for the skirt (cut twice – one of fabric and one of lining), Simplicity 9966 view A for the shirt and McCall's 3797 view C for the sleeves. I invented the cuffs and neck yoke.

I used a great fabric I found for 1.50$ a metre at Fabricville. It had the perfect weight and fall, and a nice shimmer to it. Sure, it was white, but I couldn't find the right yellow fabric so this, I thought, will do great and I’ll just dye it. Ha! Unfortunately, my great find was polyester (mistakes are the best way to learn). Note to self: polyester doesn't dye.

Well, that’s not exactly true.

I got a lot of experience in fabric dyeing with this project. First, I cut all my pieces, sewed the skirt and serged the bottom edge. Then, I started the dye baths (plural). What I have learned: Dylon Cold Dye does not work on polyester. You can leave it in the dye bath for 24 hours without fear, the colour won't take. My fabric had two 24 hours bath in Dylon Hot Dye in Golden Glow. That got it a pale yellow, but it had a bunch of darker spots, which made it look like I had accidentally dropped Kraft Dinner all over it. I tried getting them paler by working laundry detergent in with a brush (I’m not sure it worked, but heck). I then hoped the next dye bath would fix the problem. Since I wanted it a more antique yellow, I tried a 12 hours bath in 24 cups of coffee (decaf if anyone wants to know). Then I hanged it to dry in the shower (without rinsing it before for fear it would take out too much coffee). As a result, I unexpectedly made a tiger stripped fabric print. So I washed my fabric and went for the next best thing: Dylon Hot Dye in Coffee. After that dye bath, I decided it was good enough. The Kraft Dinner spots were invisible and the few brown spots could easily be hidden with sequins. Off to the laundry it went, to take out all the excess dye and fix the colour.

Next came the embellishment. Following Obi-Dawn’s tutorial, I ordered Mylar Shimmer Sheetz from the US and bought a butterfly punch hole to make little sequins, (but unlike her, I decided to keep the head an tail of the butterflies and not transform them into flowers). For a whole month, whenever I was watching Tele, you could hear “K-clonk, K-clonk, K-clonk”. I broke two punch wholes (but managed to exchange them both because I had kept the bill and it was within 30 days - muahaha) and made myself a few blisters. Then I glued about a thousand white iridescent butterfly sequins on the skirt and a couple hundred on the shirt. (It helps if you design your lines as you glue your sequins, as it makes the sewing part easier.) After the gluing, came the sewing: I zigzagged through each and every single one of these sequins with gold thread, which took one and a half day. I wanted to add some lace flowers on the fabric, just like the original has, so I bought two meters of lace flower trim (the same flower trim I used for my Glittersweet Cote), which I dyed with Dylon Cold Dye in Leaf Green, and I cut each flower individually with the intention of sewing each one on individually. But I ran out of time, and I still haven't added them. Ah well...

When I put on my costume, I also have lengths of satin ribbon in pink, yellow and light green that I wrap around the sleeves and tie at my wrists.

Head band

Rose embroidered Headband

I could not find the gold trimmed ribbon I needed so I ended up using leaf green grosgrain ribbon and satin stitching the edges and centre in gold to get the right effect. Next, I embroidered some roses on it using Kay Dee’s Rose Embroidery tutorial. I kept a strip of tearaway behind until I was done. Finally, I put some Velcro on each end to attach it easily behind my head.


My hair filled snoods

Nancy-Raven has made a few hair nets with Simplicity 5740, so she helped by answering my questions. I made my snoods as two circles approximately 17 cm in diameters and wove a string around the circumference to tie them around the buns. I then just hanged them from the head band.

I had a lot of hair back then, but there is still a limit. There is no way I could fill up the snoods without a little help. I bought two fake hair scrunchies (blond) to use as buns.

Cape and Brooch

My finished cape

For the cape, I used an expensive Organza embroidered with little pink flowers. I basically followed Kay Dee’s measurements and adapted them to my size. Then I pinned all the edges on tearaway and with a desert plate as a guide, I drew all the curves on the edge with and embroidery felt marker (the ink disappears after 48 hours) and I satin stitched the edge with special thread that goes from green to white and green again. Finally I dyed my white cape with Dylon Hot Dye in Golden Glow. I think I could have gone with a paler colour and possibly a cold dye instead, but it’s too late now and it’ll have to do (I like it anyways, and that is the most important thing).

My butterfly brooch

As for the clasp, I found a cute butterfly brooch at Ardène that is purple and lilac in colour. The metal backing is even antique gold and brown, which makes it arguably look like it’s been in Padmé’s family for generations.

I've kept the most impressive part for desert!

My Picnic Corset

Early on in the planning, I decided I wanted to use Dupioni Silk for the corset. When the time came to buy the fabric, I could not find any yellow or even golden Silk, so after a month of searching every fabric store I could get to, I bought some white silk and some yellow dye (of course I did find the right fabric at my usual store, but they only got it after I had dyed mine). I used Dylon Cold Dye in Sahara Sun colour.

The pattern I used for the corset is Simplicity 5953 view B, but I modified it slightly by making the shoulder straps narrower and the front only one piece (instead of two).

Originally, I did not intend on doing the whole embroidery. I thought I would maybe buy some tiny ribbon roses and that would be it! My need for perfection got the better part of me. I used Obi-Dawn’s drawing and Kay Dee’s finished embroidery, as well as her Rose Embroidery tutorial.

I figured I had no choice but to learn embroidery so I bought a book and practiced on a first version of the head band but I quickly realised it was going to take time, and I was already lacking some so I went back to my machine and did all my embroidery by zigzagging the design on. What I did is I drew the pattern on some tearaway paper, pinned that to my corset pieces and satin stitched in the right colour inside the lines. It took me three nights to do all the scrolls and one Saturday to do the rest. I embroidered the roses following Kay Dee’s technique (the pentagon, although in most cases they were more hexagons by the time I finished). Of course, the thread is more expensive in bobbin than embroidery floss, but considering I managed to do it all in less than a week, it was well worth the price.


My Padmé Slippers

I bought a pair of rubber sole slippers at Zellers that do just fine. They are a slightly grayish white in colour with embroidery and lots of white sequins and tiny pearls on.
Now at this point, I know you are dying (no pun intended - well, maybe) to see what my finished costume looks like. So here it is, my Star Wars pride:

Gwenyver's Padmé Picnic Dress

This is the single most complicated project I have ever done. I have made my own sequins, I have learned to embroider using the zigzag stitch on my sewing machine (remember, I am lazy and doing it by hand does not go with my usual last minute habit), I have dyed my own fabrics, etc. But I am SOOOO proud of myself.

I absolutely have to thank a few people here (I’m practicing for the Oscars you see): I’d like to thank the Goddess for giving me the strength to go through this… No seriously, I need to thank Maggie from The Padawan's Guide for her wonderful website and for putting me in contact with Obi-Dawn. Kay-Dee’s website was also very useful for the roses’ embroidery, the great picture of her finished embroidered corset and the measurement of the cape. I also really need to thank my wonderful Sweetheart for being so patient with the sequins on the living room floor, the dye baths on the stove and the sound of my sewing machine at 6 AM on week days. Thank you for cooking dinner for me and supplying me with the best home made hot chocolate.

Darn, the music has started and the Mic just went down into the floor. Guess that’s it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Movie Monday: Star Wars Episode IV - A New Hope

I know, Star Wars is nothing new, especially A New Hope (1977), but we watched it last night, and as Halloween is coming, I thought it was worth mentioning. After all, you are bound to se a few Jedi and a couple Princess Leias at any Halloween Party. They have become iconic and an important part of our Pop culture.

Now, if you were old enough to go see the movie when it originally came out, this is probably the movie trailer you saw:

Me, I wasn't event a glimmer in my parent's eyes. I saw the three original Star Wars much later, when the local TV station showed them (in French, with adds).

But I do like the costume!

My friend Princess Jedi has a lovely Leia Senatorial costume, complete with hair buns:

Princess Jedi as Princess Leia Organa

As for the Ceremonial gown she wears at the end, I love Sister Sola's recreation of it:

Sister Sola's Princess Leia's Ceremonial Gown
(Photo by Studios)

That last one I would love to make myself.

That movie also introduced us to the famous Jedi Knight uniform: the beige tunic and brown robe worn by Obi-Wan are now famous.

Tionniel as a Jedi Knight

Lastly, one costume less seen on trick-or-treaters but very popular with the Convention Geeks (and I am proud to consider myself one of them) is the Rebel Pilot:

Luc Skywalker as Rebel Pilot

Looking to make a Star Wars costume? Your first stop has to be The Padawan's Guide. It is the best place to research your costume and there is quite a lot of eye candy (i.e. many, many pictures!).

That's where I went when I was preparing to make the costume I will present to you... tomorrow. (What, you can't get everything in one day! I have to build a little suspense, sometimes, don't I?)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall Harvest Pictures

Fall Harvest is over. I have been working on this event since July, preparing classes, schedules and making favours. I was so busy running A&S, I almost didn't get any pictures. Almost! At the end of the night, we took a few minutes for a photo shoot so I have something to share today.

Gwenyver (a.k.a Mórag) in her Apple Green Bliaut, Fall Harvest 2009

Major difference now that my hair is short: I can't braid them anymore! Also, in this picture, I'm wearing a white keyhole neckline under tunic (as opposed to the pictures I showed you yesterday, which were taken in 2006).

The Household of the Busy Bees, Fall Harvest 2009

These are the same household members as seen in my Reminiscing: Pennsic XXXVI post, plus my Sweetheart, who couldn't come to Pennsic with us due to work, and two new additions: Eibhlin, Sciath's and Ieun's daughter (and our goddaughter) and my own daughter.

A Medieval Family portrait: Gwenyver, Sweetheart and Baby, Fall Harvest 2009

The tunic my daughter wore for the Fête Médiévale de Saint-Colomban (see my event report) is getting way too small for her.

*Sigh* The grow so fast!

As you can see, my Sweetheart's blue-gray doublet can also be sleeveless.

Gwenyver, Baby and Marie-Ange-the-Celt, Fall Harvest 2009

My friend Marie-Ange-the-Celt came with us. It was her first SCA event. We decided to take this picture holding my daughter the way we held the Potion bottle at the end of our Final Fantasy VII skit at Otakuthon last year, high above our heads to present her to the world. Apparently, my Baby preferred playing with Marie-Ange-the-Celt's hair.

By the way, you can see one of the 60 favours i made for the event on Marie-Ange-the-Celt's belt.

Marie-Ange-the-Celt (a.k.a Tanwen) in her Blue Silk Gown, Fall Harvest 2009

It's a beautiful dress, I thought I'd show it to you again. It is real Dupioni silk! I want one.

Marie-Ange-the-Celt and Gwenyver, Fall Harvest 2009

Another one of my famous self-portraits to end the day.

That's all folks! Medieval events are over for now (for me anyways, and only until January). Now there is less than a week for me to prepare for Halloween. Panic!