Saturday, September 28, 2013

Clockwork Droid, Part 2

The costume is coming along quite nicely. I went back to the fabric store today to get the rest of my supplies, and now I can picture how the dress is going to look when everything is finished!

I sewed in the new front panel, but only on the bottom. I had to leave the sides undone so I could embellish the front. As I mentioned in the last post, I sewed the new fabric onto the edge of the existing fabric and then cut the old fabric away. You can tell from looking at the inside of the dress, but it's not noticeable at all from the outside.

I used the same fabric for the bottom of the sleeves...and then I was out of fabric. I also had no embellishments for the front. I tried playing around with the leftover lace, but as you can tell the results were not promising.

Not quite what I was looking for. So today I headed back to the fabric store to buy something for the sleeves and ribbon for the front. I brought a sample of the original fabric to try and match the color as much as possible.

None of the solids matched, but I did find a pattern that had a darker turquoise on a background that was darn near exactly the same color. Then I found a nice wide ribbon in the darker turquoise to tie everything together.

After playing around with different ways to attach the ribbon, I settled on gathering it just in the middle, with four lengths of ribbon across the front.

Next I added in the fabric for the sleeves, to see how everything looks together.

Right now it's all just laid out on the floor. Next comes sewing it all together! 

Of course, no clockwork droid costume would be complete without the mask. I'll do a quick post on that as well, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Clockwork Droid, Part 1

As promised, here are some progress shots on my clockwork droid costume! We shall begin with the "before" picture: me in my $10 secondhand bridesmaid's dress.

I'm so glad I never had to wear this in public.
The tag says it was originally from JCPenney, but I found it at Goodwill. There are three main problems I had with it: the sleeves, the neckline, and the middle panel in the front (which includes the solid fabric under the lace). The sleeves are too puffy, obviously. I decided to replace the front panel with white fabric and a square neckline.

The first step was to take out the fabric I didn't want. I used a seam ripper to remove the stitches without cutting the fabric. I removed the sleeves first and then deconstructed the front of the dress:

I used a square-neck sweater to figure out how deep I wanted the new neckline to be, then I traced around the rest of the panel to create a pattern on tissue paper.

Yes, that's Christmas polka dot tissue paper. WHAT.

My initial thought was to sew the solid white fabric under the lace, so I started by cutting the lace. I also considered leaving the turquoise fabric in place, but ultimately decided it would be too distracting. You can tell from the second photo that everything is still attached to the skirt. There's no way to remove it without also undoing the gathers on the skirt, so I think I'm going to sew the white fabric onto the turquoise and then cut the turquoise off.

Here's the cut fabric for the replacement panel. I sewed around the neckline and turned it inside-out. I had to press it to make it lie flat, which I had never done before. My previous sewing experience is about equal parts repairs and doll clothes, with only a couple larger projects here and there. I kept the iron on its lowest setting because I was afraid of scorching the fabric. I probably could have turned it up a bit, though. The edges of the fabric were fraying like crazy, so I whip-stitched loosely around the very edge to try and curb it. It's an inherent problem with the fabric--the edges of the skirt are fraying too.

Before I sew it into the dress I'm going to embellish it with a ribbon or bows. I'll need to visit the fabric store for the ribbon and play around with it for a bit before I decide on the final design. I'm probably going to need more fabric for the sleeves, too. I bought an actual pattern to use for the sleeves (lower right). If I'm ever feeling really ambitious I may try making the whole dress, although that won't be for this Halloween.

Friday, September 20, 2013

In Defense of Casual Costuming

It's mid-September, which naturally means it's time to start planning for Halloween! I have this costume that I started working on a couple years ago. When I first started watching Doctor Who, one of the first episodes I saw was "Girl in the Fireplace." Aside from recognizing Sophia Myles (Reinette) from Moonlight, the most memorable part of the episode was the clockwork droids:

I've wanted to do a droid costume ever since. I got a plain mask from Michaels, which I decorated with Sharpie markers in a design similar to the ones seen in the show. I found a bridesmaid's dress at Goodwill which I thought would be good with some added lace at the neck and sleeves.

Yesterday I went looking for more pictures to figure out how I was going to modify the dress. Then I started looking for other people who had done cosplay droids, to see if they had any tutorials. In addition to some truly amazing costumes (see here and here and especially here) I kinda got the feeling that my idea wasn't good enough. It can be inspiring to look at other people's work, but it can be intimidating too.

There was one blog post in particular, which I will not link to, that left me feeling down. The guy who did the costume--which was honestly very good--was boasting about how his droid costume was better than all the others at the convention. He made a snide remark about someone else's costume, saying that her final mask was worse than his first attempt.

On the one hand, screw that guy.

On the other hand...well, screw that guy.

But at the same time, he's not the first person I've encountered to have that attitude, and he won't be the last. There are people in the cosplay community who feel a "casual attempt" at a costume is worse than no costume at all. "You think you can be the Eleventh Doctor with a just a suit jacket and a bowtie?" they sneer. "GTFO, noob. That's the wrong tweed fabric! Obviously! And your buttons are a quarter inch too small! And that shirt is all wrong! Don't know anything?" I won't even get into the problem of judging the person wearing the costume. That is another post for another day.

I have nothing against people who want to make their own costumes 100% screen-accurate. If that's what you want to do, more power to you. Just don't expect everyone to share your attitude. Most importantly, don't look down on those who take a different, more "casual" approach.

At its best, costuming is about showing off your talents and learning new ones along the way. The woman who decided to hide inside the dress and top it with a transparent head? Her costume is effing brilliant, and she deserves every bit of praise she gets for the hundreds of hours she put into it.

And the guy in the "wrong" jacket and bow tie? Maybe he's been too shy to cosplay before. Maybe this is his way of saying he's a fan of the show. Maybe he searched a dozen thrift stores to find that jacket because he can't afford the official replica.

Maybe he just wanted a costume he could put together in fifteen minutes. Is that so wrong? People cosplay for a million different reasons, and they're not always going to be the same as yours or mine.

In conclusion: If you can't say something nice about another person's costume, don't say anything at all.

I'll be posting progress pics soon on my own costume, so stay tuned!