A wild defense date appears!

Yeaaaah, so I’ve got no excuse for this particular prolonged absence from blogging except that the story I mentioned in the last post now has about 120,000 words. And STILL no plot. It has the beginnings of a plot. It has a problem the characters have to deal with. But still no overarching plot. But never fear, I will get there eventually! And in the meantime I’m writing the heck out of my pair’s backstory. And drawing pictures of them. Etc.

No, wait, I do have an excuse! I HAVE A DISSERTATION DEFENSE DATE! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!! *panic*

It’s in mid-August, and I’m going to be working like a crazy person until then to get my dissertation into proper shape. Unfortunately, this means no cons until after I turn it in to my committee in July, so ACEN’s out (again! GRAR!), but I’m still hoping to make it to GenCon. A recent defend-ee in my program told me the best thing I could do during that month-long period between turning it in and actually defending is take a vacation, so I say, TO THE FOOD TRUCKS!

In cosplay news, I’m pretty much where I was in January (see above dissertation crazyness), but with a bit more progress on Pikachu and a new Jedi outfit in the works that won’t require 2+ hours of hair and makeup every time I want to wear it! I wore Jocasta to ShutoCon in March and didn’t even bother making myself look old–too much effort! 😛

Here’s a shot of Pikachu; aside from adding poofs to the shoes, the bottom half is done!

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Shoes could use another layer of paint, too, but I may just leave them. Yesterday I tested paint on a feather for the headdress thing. It worked…all right? Not spectacular, but will work if I can’t come up with anything else. Unfortunately my base feathers are pheasant, so I can’t just dye a white feather yellow.

Built a lightsaber:

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$20 of random hardware store parts and for-plastic spray paint later, and that’s what I had! It doesn’t have built-in LED or anything and can’t be attached to a blade, but it works as an on-the-belt prop and makes me look like a proper Jedi. 😀 And Errant Knight Photography, who took my photo at Shuto, was awesome enough to photoshop me a blade and a snazzy background!

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Now I just need to learn to pose properly. 😛 One-handed saber w/two-handed pose, not so much. 😛

And on that note, I have the afternoon off, so I’m going to make tabards and an obi for Jedi 2.0. Cheers!

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Rebels and Riyria

Per my previous post about being a card-carrying Jedi, I’m (finally) back to report on my first Troop, or Rebel Legion event. Ooooooh, aaaaaah! This past Saturday evening I attended USA Hockey’s Star Wars Night with other members of the Great Lakes Base and Great Lakes Garrison. I met my first Chewbacca (7′ 3″ in costume, 6′ 8″ out of it!) as well as a variety of Storm Troopers, an ARC Clone Trooper, Boba Fett, a few Jedi, Han Solo, etc. Here we all are:

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*Insert Hoth joke here*

Yup, we all managed to walk onto the ice, in street shoes, and not fall down. My mom joked that because I am an Old Lady Jedi, I should get a lightsaber hilt and attach it to a cane. I think this is BRILLIANT and would be perfect for more ice-walks.

Because it was SW Night we basically mingled with the game attendees and also got to throw t-shirts into the audience between the second and third periods. (Hockey games have three periods. Did you know that? I’m not sure I did… Must rewatch Mighty Ducks soon.) They also gave us space to set up a table, where we had a “blasting range;” for $1 kids got to shoot a Nerf Star Wars blaster at our targets (and a few of our helmet-and-armor-wearing costumers) and then collect a prize — all the money went to the Mott Community Childrens Hospital. I manned the blasting range for a while, and let me tell you…kids + Nerf gun = DUCK AND COVER! Suddenly building a set of Storm Trooper armor doesn’t sound like such a bad idea (and it protects against snake bites — did anyone see this article??).

Jocasta Nu and Sabine Wren.

Jocasta Nu and Sabine Wren.

Lesson learned from my first Troop: I need a lightsaber, even if I am an old lady. And for “need” read “would really like.” So I’m saving up for a fancy one that actually lights up, makes sounds, and has a detachable blade. The editing job I’m doing for a professor right now looks like it’s going to pay for quite a bit of it, so yay!

In cosplay news…well, there isn’t any. And for that I’m going to blame/thank author Michael J. Sullivan, whose Riyria series pretty much ate up an entire week of my life and then some. I picked up Theft of Swords while home on break–my sister had checked it out from the library–and started reading it on a whim, and then I basically did absolutely nothing else for the next week other than read. When I got through the six-book Revelations series so I went and bought the two Riyria Chronicles and read those as well. And then I finished and my life had a giant Riyria-shaped hole in it (seriously guys, I stayed up till almost 3am after I finished, hoping the characters would be okay now that I wasn’t there to watch over them. I am SAD.). I’m not going to do an actual book review since this is supposed to be a costuming blog, but if you are into fantasy I absolutely recommend picking them up. The story starts fairly simply but gets more and more involved and intricate as the series goes on, and the characters are spectacular–I love love love guy friendships in books, and Royce and Hadrian, the main characters, are an amazing pair. And Hadrian has the same name as a Roman emperor, so that totally makes this relevant to the “Classics” half of this blog. *Cough* Really.

Speaking of giant Riyria-shaped holes and guy friendships, the solution my brain came up with to fill said hole was to just go off and do some writing myself. I’m one of those people who has been trying to write a fantasy novel for years and has yet to succeed, with the single exception of my 2012 NaNo novel (I don’t think my LOTR fanfictions of 13+ years ago count, and though I reached 50K words in NaNo 13 I didn’t actually finish telling the story). The list of reasons for my lack of success is long and boring, but I’ve noticed that one of my many problems is that I either have characters I want to write about but no plot, or a plot but characters who feel like afterthoughts because I’ve just stuck them in the story to do the things I want done. Which is bad. The point of this is that, since reading the Riyria books, I’ve written nearly 30,000 words, and while there is, yet again, little to no plot to be seen in any of this, I’m actually really enjoying just getting to know my two new characters, and have so far been able to stave off the nagging feeling that I Must Come Up With A Brilliant, Unique, And Intricate Plot Right Now. (Holy crap does capitalizing every word slow down your typing speed.) Hopefully if I stick with them long enough, they’ll tell me what they want to do.

P.S. New life goal: cosplay Royce Melborn. Not even kidding.

I’m a card-carrying Jedi!

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! I am super excited to announce that yesterday I was accepted to The Rebel Legion!!

Check out that white hair!

Check out that white hair!


The RL is an international Star Wars costuming fan club, but in addition to just geeking out about SW, they also give back to the community through a variety of volunteer activities — marching in parades, visiting hospitals, raising money for charities, and the like. You may be familiar with their counterpart, the 501st Legion. The 501st does ‘bad guy’ costumes (Vader, Stormtroopers, Sith…), while the Rebel Legion does good guys (Jedi, rebels, Clone Troopers before Order 66…). And to be thorough, I should also give a shout-out to the Mandalorian Mercs, who do Mandalorian costumes (think Boba Fett).

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here, but for the last few years I’ve felt kind of conflicted about the fact that my major hobby, cosplay, is mostly about me. I’d say 95% of the sewing I do is for myself, and conventions are largely about celebrating the things you enjoy along with your friends and fellow fans. And while hobbies are, by nature, things we do to make ourselves happy, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, I’ve been feeling guilty about spending all of my time and talent on myself. However, I’m not very experienced, and therefore not very comfortable, sewing clothing for other people (unless they’re actually present for repeated fittings and adjustments), so I was looking for something outreach-y I could do in my cosplays.

From what I can find online, anime cosplay isn’t very organized in this regard. There are various ‘cosplay against cancer’ (or other diseases) efforts, but most of them seem to be limited to a few individuals, or even to one individual doing a particular cosplay to raise money/awareness. There’s also Cosplay for a Cause, but let’s just say that I don’t think my chest-to-waist ratio is quite right for their needs. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking their efforts, but no one would pay to see my picture in a cosplay calendar.)

I’d heard about the 501st, but I’ve always been a serious sucker for the Jedi (and a little too short for a Stormtrooper), so when I learned about the Rebel Legion I knew I had to join up. I’d wanted to do a Jedi costume anyway, so this was perfect. Now that I’ve been accepted, I’ll joining the Great Lakes Base in Star Wars nerdery and charity in the Michigan/Ohio area. Can’t wait!!

Mami Tomoe’s bodice

I noticed that a lot of the hits I get on this blog come from people searching for Mami cosplay details, and after reading my old Mami write-up, I realized I never did a good explanation of the bodice/corset/waist-thing. So I’ve taken some pictures of the finished product in the hopes that they will make it clearer.

For the bodice I used Butterick 5371, which is a kind of “miscellaneous Renaissance pieces” pattern:

I used the bodice in the upper right. It required sewing the sides up instead of putting grommet holes and laces there, lengthening it so that it came down further over my hips, and adjusting the top so that it was straight all around rather than lower at the sides, but the shape is right and the modifications were pretty easy overall.

My bodice is made out of twill and is fully lined. If I recall correctly, it’s two layers of twill with a layer of cotton sandwiched in between. The channels for the boning are sewn into the under-layer of twill and the cotton layer, so you don’t see any evidence of them on the outer layer. It’s possible one of the layers is also interfaced for extra stiffness — I’m afraid that after two years, I don’t remember!

The big problem with the bodice in terms of the actual costume design is that, as far as I can tell, it’s meant to buckle shut in the front.

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You could do that, but you’d have to alter the design slightly to create actual buckles (just look at the ones in the drawing for a moment…). Plus, that’s potentially a lot of stress on three buckles. To get around that, you can do things like insert a zipper or put laces up the back like an actual corset, for examples.

I have a terrible history with zippers. They break on me frequently, and I’m just not that great at putting them in (remember my post celebrating the successful installation of a zipper?). So I decided to forgo the zipper route and use the lace-up technique instead, but rather than have it lace up in the back, I made two panels in the front, so that the under-panel laces and holds all the weight, while the outer panel is purely decorative and is held together with velcro:

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Note the velcro on the right.

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Velcro sewn onto a ‘modesty panel.’ This is what holds the outer layer shut.

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The two panels branch out starting at the yellow strip of trim (right). I sewed the decorative panel to the outer layer of twill and the under panel to the under layer of twill.

The buckles are made from aluminum floral wire, which is easy to bend but still metallic. As you can see, they’re just stitched on with thread.IMG_1697 (800x533)

The trim is a pretty standard one, which you can get at any JoAnn as far as I know. The only thing special about it is that I flipped it over so that the underside (left) is facing up.IMG_1698 (800x533)

The yellow trim is just more of the twill I used to the skirt, made into bias tape and hand-sewn on. The white trim was also sewn on by hand, because apparently I like hand-sewing a liiiiitle too much.

And that about covers it! I hope this helps — please let me know if you have any questions!