Final Costume Con post

One of the things that I feel important to emphasize is that Costume Con is host to a wide variety of costumers. There are the more casual costumers, who do this as a hobby, and there are the hard-core costumers who have managed to turn a hobby into a career. It seemed to me that the most devoted and dedicated costumers at Costume Con were working within the genre of Historical costuming. This is not to say that they left out whimsy. I consider Steampunk costuming to, technically, be an off-shoot of Historical costuming.

Most of my costuming is done in the vein of fantasy/sci-fi/fandom costuming. As you might recall, my “to make” list mainly includes stuff from films and television shows. This is not to say, however, that I do not love and appreciate the hell out of the historical costumes I saw wandering around at Costume Con.

They were absolutely fantastic! Maggie and I were both inspired to start working on our own era-specific costumes for next year.

After walking around all day in our respective heels Maggie and I decided to take it a bit easy with the last day’s costumes. Good thing, too. Both of us were dealing with some sore legs by the end of Saturday. We decided on Jedi robes for the final day of the con – basically the costume equivalent of walking around in your jammie-jams all day.

Yes, I said jammie-jams.

Unfortunately for me, that meant donning the boots again, but it really wasn’t that bad. Since the heel is wide and the toe of the boot is square, allowing plenty of room for my toes to wiggle, they are actually rather comfortable.

It rained on our way up to the convention that morning. Things looked dreary and we were both still kind of tired from being out until all hours of the morning, but we had music to listen to along the way and we still got there in pretty good time, despite the weather. Since the Jedi robes are pretty much up to anything we could throw at them, we decided to change outside. The major rain had stopped and there was just a light sprinkling going on. There were muddy tracks on the ground where we parked the car, where the rain had washed soil and mulch from the nearby shrubbery but, again, the Jedi clothes are pretty solid. My skirt picked up a little water and dirt, but it just went a good ways towards making my costume look like real, lived-in clothing. Of course, if I had left the robes and skirt alone after wearing them to Polaris last year, they would have looked a whole lot more lived in! They got positively caked with pale gray mud from the parking lot at that con.

I ended up wearing two of the obi-style belts (No, they’re not called obi belts because of Obi Wan Kenobi. I use that term because they look like the obi belts traditionally worn with kimonos which are, let’s face it, where the costume designer for Star Wars got the idea). Anyway, the belts, when used together (one tied on to fasten in the front and the other tied over top of it to fasten in the back) acted as a kind of back brace. This was helpful, as I no longer had the support from the corset I wore the day before.

As soon as the belts were straightened and lightsabers were attached we headed in to the main lobby. My first goal was to grab some breakfast from the con suite. This was actually the first con where we popped into the con suite at all, and we ended up making pretty good use of it. We got waylaid on our way to the room, however, by a fellow con attendee who was terribly excited to see Jedi wandering about. I saw her run from one side of the lobby to the other, hopping around chairs and tables, shouting “Wait! Can I take your picture?!”

Truth be told, Maggie and I kind of figure we’ll be asked to stop for pictures when wearing our Jedi gear. The pattern we used is incredibly film accurate and, since the costumes are so comfortable (and probably one of the favorite things I’ve made) we like to walk around in them. They billow quite nicely when you walk down the hall. 😀

Interestingly enough, shortly after I bought the Jedi pattern I stopped seeing them in the Simplicity catalog at JoAnn’s. The fairly accurate Princess Leia costumes were also missing. I couldn’t figure out why, for the life of me, these patterns would be pulled. After all, Star Wars is a pretty popular category for costumers in general. I mean, honestly…who doesn’t want to be a Jedi? Incedentally, we didn’t really see a whole lot of Jedi until that Sunday. I think there were five total, including us. One of my favorites was this girl here, who was making the costume worn by the Jedi Librarian at the Jedi Archives. She is doing all of the embroidery by hand! This is actually one of the costumes I want to make.
Well, we found out Sunday night why the patterns were pulled. Apparently, they were so close to the actual costume patterns from the films that Lucasfilm objected and they had to be pulled. How did we learn this? One of the guests and panelists for the weekend was a designer from Simplicity, and she gave us the low-down. Maggie and I found it hilarious. We’re constantly asked how we made such accurate costumes and, come to find out, it’s because the designers managed to draft an almost exact copy for us to work off of!

One of the things that was pretty cool to see all weekend was the random sewing that went on in the main lobby of the hotel. Maggie snapped a picture of this woman working on a tabbed corset. Is it sad I can figure out what she’s making when it’s sprawled out on her lap?

We went to more panels on Saturday than we had all weekend. The first was titled “Accessories.” It mainly consisted of two panelists showcasing some of the accessories they have made for costumes. Kind of a show-and-tell panel. It was actually a lot cooler than I just made it sound. The guy who went first had some absolutely fantastic Dr. Who props and insights. One of the coolest things he had was a wonderful scarf that a friend had given him that had clocks all over it. When he held it up it took a moment to recognize that the design was made out of clocks, simply because of the way they were laid out. He explained that his friend had purchased the scarf when they were out traveling. Apparently they saw it and thought “That looks like a Time Lord scarf if ever I saw one.” He also had a little mini die-cast model of a blue police box that was actually older than the show. He could carry around his Tardis in his pocket!

The lady explained how to make superhero boots out of regular shoes and some spandex. Her section of the panel wasn’t actually as interesting as his was, but that was okay because he took up more time. 🙂

One of the events that we were really looking forward too on Sunday was the Future Fashion Show. As I believe I mentioned before – I can’t remember at the moment and I honestly don’t want to take the time to look…bad blogger! – Maggie and I had both submitted designs for it. I was surprised that more people didn’t reserve designs to make for the fashion show and was pleasantly surprised to see that someone had reserved my favorite design. I had titled it “Mech” (not creative, I know, but I actually hate thinking up titles for things most of the time) but the person who sewed the actual costume gave it the title “I always have change.” I honestly didn’t get it at first. It wasn’t until later that I realized the title referred to the use of Canadian two-dollar coins for the buttons of the coat.I was fantastically excited when the costumer walked out on stage. Not only had she created the costume exactly as I had designed it (the costumers were actually allowed and encouraged to re-design pieces of the designs if they so chose), but she had made it in the colors I had described. Well, technically I hadn’t described them – the people who put together the folio had done that, but I had sent in a version of the line drawing with color added, and the colors matched it almost exactly.

I found the woman after the show and asked to take pictures of her in the outfit. Maggie had taken two while she was on stage but took a couple more with the woman standing against the backdrop in the green room. I was surprised to see that she had actually gone to the trouble of getting three twoonies (the Canadian two dollar coins) and glued them to button shanks for the coat. She told me she planned to use the coat as her winter coat and had already had two or three people ask if she would make them one as well. Excitement!

I found out later that the woman who made up my design was Karen Dick. Who is she, you ask? Well, she’s one of the people who was instrumental in the creation of Costume Con. She and her husband run most of them and she was in charge of putting the Folio together. I was positively giddy when I found this out.

The woman who won Best in Show for the Future Fashion Show had actually designed her own costume. There was a tremendous amount of work that went into the piece: hand-beading, embroidery, etc. It was really sparkly!

After the regular part of the Future Fashion Show was over the woman from Simplicity came out for a special presentation. She had brought along a couple of new costumes that had just been designed for Simplicity. One or two were already out in the catalog but there were a number that hadn’t even been photographed yet. One of the dresses she showcased came out of customer feedback. It seems Simplicity has received a lot of requests over the years to draft a pattern based on the dress from the movie Legend. They have finally put out out – obviously taking care to make it different enough from the actual film version to avoid the same licensing problems they had with the Jedi costumes.

Since we had been on site for most of our meals the previous two days Maggie and I decided to hop in the car and see what Timonium had to offer in the way of food away from the hotel. We settled on Chipotle.

I kind of wish we had a friend inside videotaping people’s reactions when we went inside to order. The reactions of the folks working behind the counter were a lot of fun to watch. I saw a lot of double takes and one person even got summoned from the store room in the back to come and see the Jedi standing in line. The staff asked us questions about where we were coming from. It was actually kind of odd to be in a Chipotle and not have Spanish spoken behind the counter. Most of the folks working were Caucasian — something that just went to highlight that we were in Maryland, and not multi-cultural Northern Virginia. I felt kind of uncomfortable, to tell the truth. It was like we were in a different country. By now I’ve kind of come to expect a mix of English, Spanish and Korean to be spoken in the establishments I frequent.

Anyway, we got our food and went to sit down at one of the tables. We ended up sitting next to a table of four teenage boys who tried to act nonchalant. They didn’t really succeed…I saw them talking excitedly when we came in and then sneaking peeks at the lightsabers Maggie and I were wearing.

The lightsabers actually got quite a bit of attention throughout the day. Some folks could tell what they were made out of but still thought they were fabulous props. Other costumers couldn’t figure out what we had used and were taken aback to learn that the sabers were all constructed from drainpipes and random pieces from the plumbing aisle of Home Depot. It impressed them even more that the basic ones only cost about $22.

Later in the evening we went to two panels back to back: Trash to Treasure, and Tool Time. We thought that Trash to Treasure was going to be the more interesting and applicable of the two to what our costuming aesthetic tends to be. It wasn’t really what we had expected, although there were a couple of things we learned from the panel. Mainly they seemed to focus on where to get cheap supplies. While that is also helpful (I will be contacting Pendleton for wool selvedge, for instance), they didn’t really focus on how to recycle trash into costumes. I kind of wound up wishing they had gotten our paperwork to be panelists when I sent it in, as we had all kinds of things we could have brought in that show how to re-use things that other folks just throw away. (FYI: The picture to the left doesn’t have anything to do with the panel…he was in the masquerade that night, dressed as a “Killer Bee.”)

The panel that ended up being the most interesting and applicable to our costuming was Tool Time. Basically it was how to utilize the hardware store for your costumes. It actually had a lot more of the “trash to treasure” type of discussion than the previous panel did. For instance, they recommended going to vacuum cleaner repair stores and picking up a box of all the broken bits…the handles of a particular model of hoover vac looks remarkably like a phaser from Star Trek.

Maggie and I also ended up contributing more to the discussion in this panel. One of the guys on the panel had spotted my lightsaber on the way into the room (I was heading out to get a drink before it started) and had commented “I see something that fits in to this panel.” They ended up asking to see our lightsabers. Both of them got passed around. It was nice to have both of them there – although they are made out of the same basic materials, they look different from each other. Maggie has painted blaster marks and scuffs on hers, while mine is fairly unmarred but has a different look to the handle (thanks to some awesome felt that I had left over from another costume). One of the guys pointed out how, with just one or two things done differently we had two unique lightsabers. We ended up contributing some info about other props and costumes we had made, as did some other attendees. Two women came in part-way through the panel who had pretty cool steampunk costumes. I had seen them earlier but got the chance to get a better look at some of their props and accessories when we were in the room for the panel. I think the one wearing the pants and argyle socks had my favorite steampunk costume for the weekend.

We grabbed dinner in Northern Lights for the third straight day. This time we ended up eating at the bar, as the rest of the restaurant was pretty full up. We didn’t mind. We slung our belts with our lightsabers over the back of our barstools (really tall chairs) and bellied up to the bar. Maggie actually ended up trying one of the drinks that the bartenders had made up especially for the convention. She couldn’t get the one she originally ordered, though, as it had been so popular that they ran out of the alcohol that they made it with. She ended up getting an albino vampire, I think. I can’t really remember.

Sunday night was the Historical Masquerade. There were actually more costumes entered into this category, but it took much less time than the SF/F category had. I think that’s because the presentations for the SF/F costumes just took longer.

I ran to the bathroom right before the masquerade started and so got to see a couple of the entrants wandering around inside the green room and out in the hallways before the show. I even ended up being a good Jedi/Samaritan for one of the folks in the show – she needed to change into her chemise and then dart back to the green room to get into the rest of her costume, but she was worried about folks spotting her in what is basically a slip in the middle of the hallway. I loaned her the use of my Jedi cloak for the trip from the bathroom to the green room. It’s wonderfully voluminous, so it can fit just about anybody, and it’s defintely not see-through.

One of the dresses I saw on my run to and from the bathroom was this massive red dress that looked like something Marie Antoinette would wear. The presentation was entitled Madame Guillotine. Her hair was wonderful! It was ridiculously tall and there was a miniature guillotine lodged in it. I loved it – both because there was a guillotine and because the inclusion of random accessories in Marge Simpson-height hairdos is an actual, historical thing. They used to put all kinds of shit up in their hair during that time. It added to the drama of the whole ensemble. I seem to remember whole stuffed birds being depicted in one painting.

Another entrant made a serious mistake in her costume planning. She had made a gigantic hat, and had curled and pinned her hair up elaborately to off-set the hat. However, she had just placed the hat on top of her head. If it had been a regular hat that sat down snugly around the crown of her head there probably wouldn’t have been a problem. But this was the kind of hat that sits atop the hair. Hence, it needed a hat pin to secure it. She did not use one, however, and the hat would periodically drift off her head. It’s not that there was a breeze blowing it off. It was just creating some serious wind drag of its own while she moved. Needless to say, the audience was not impressed with her presentation.

I found out later that, due to the presence of so many superb costumes in this category, the judges ended up having a split in the awards. I believe there were three winners for Best in Show for the Historical Masquerade. One of the winners was this presentation of a classic Coco Chanel outfit. The fact that this one came in equal with pieces from periods like the French Revolution, Victorian England and American Civil War just goes to show you that the big frills and lace and so forth doesn’t necessarily make a costume piece the Best in Show. It’s a great deal to do with the construction of a piece and, especially in the case of the Historical Masquerade, how accurate you are to the source material. By the way, I saw this woman a couple of times through out the weekend and she was always dressed to the nines in what people might consider as more recent historical fasion. She had been wearing an absolutely wonderful late 1920s/early 1930s outfit at dinner the night before. Sadly, Maggie didn’t see it and I didn’t think to get a picture of it.

Overall, the entire convention was fantastic. It was actually a bit smaller than I expected it to be…fewer panels than I expected, but there are also a lot more workshops. I think one of the reasons they don’t really have a whole lot of panels is because so many people take part in the masquerades and that takes up a lot of time. Even though we didn’t lead any of the panels, we felt our insights during said panels were listened to. And just wandering around the lobby, taking pictures, and meandering through the vendors’ sections is worth the admission cost to the convention alone.

Final conclusion? If the Costume Con happens to be near your area, plan to check it out.

Second Costume Con Post

Saturday was our first full day at the convention. We left a bit later than we originally intended to…mainly because I think we were both still kind of tired from running around the previous day. I was still sore from general back and joint issues that had started on Friday and Maggie was a bit sore from walking around in her stilts Friday night, but we both donned our respective gear for Saturday’s fun – which included heels for both of us.

My heels were a little more manageable. I ended up getting a pair of Mudd boots over at Kohls (I love the end of winter sale – I believe they were only $10). They’re half a size too big, but nothing a thick pair of socks can’t handle. Maggie’s boots have a little extra “character,” due to a mishap with one of the dogs at her house, but they are awesome none-the-less. Just something that I don’t think I could wear for longer than an hour at most.

We had already agreed that Saturday was to be “Steampunk Day” for us. Maggie’s costume was certainly much more cohesive than mine was. Remember the problems with the pants? I had managed to fix a great deal, but they ended up being too big in some parts (mainly in the back) and I still hadn’t finished the eyelets on the corset, despite working on them until about 4am the previous night/early morning and all the way to Timonium on Saturday. I was wearing my back-up steampunk vest for most of the day – which was still too big. I ended up bringing in my sewing gear and spending most of the day hand-sewing eyelets on with gold thread. Near the end, I just got tired of trying to make them all look nice, so the back eyelets, which no one was really going to see, ended up being sewn in with fewer stitches. It’s done and able to be laced, but it’s definitely on my “to be mended/finished better” list.
Maggie kept being stopped in the hallway by folks who wanted to take pictures of her costume. 🙂 Personally, I think she should have gotten a hall costume award that day. Just saying.
When I finally got my corset done I went out to the car to change. Maggie helped lace me into the thing. It laces in four places, front and back and, due to the greatly lessened range of motion lacing myself in just wasn’t going to happen.
Like any well-made and well-fitted corset, this one was extremely comfortable to wear. There isn’t really any room to bend at the waist but that’s okay — the back problems had made that impossible anyway. It was the first corset I had finished that used the cable tie boning that I had read about on another costume site and I found that the assortment of cable ties really held up phenomenally throughout the late afternoon and evening. When everything was finished and laced and tied and whatnot, I felt more comfortable walking around. It was like wearing a blue and gold silk brocade back brace. Just so you know, I’m supposed to be “lost” in this picture.

As I said, we really didn’t go to many panels on Saturday. The only one we sat through was “Historical Corseting.” Both Maggie and I wanted to go to this one, as we were both obviously starting to get into building corsets. Unfortunately, this panel didn’t end up being about what we thought it would. I thought it would be a more hands-on panel, showing the different types of corsets in real-life, or giving examples of where to get materials that were either historically accurate (reeds boning for certain styles) or that were good stand-ins for the flexibility or rigidity of said materials. Instead, the lady who was running the panel just handed out a couple of stapled, photocopied pages about different kinds of corset types, and read directly from the pages. As far as I could tell from trying to look over someone’s shoulder (she hadn’t made enough copies for everyone), she had just cut-and-pasted from the Kyoto Costume Institute’s extremely large publication, Fashion. While the book is an absolutely fantastic reference for historical costuming, most of the folks in the audience for the panel already have this book (some even have the rarer, more expensive two-volume version). I came out of that panel less than impressed.
Maggie spent a good deal of Saturday chatting with me while I sewed and dashing off to take pictures of all the pretty costumes.
And there were a LOT of very pretty costumes. Although Costume Con-goers sport costumes from a wide variety of genres the vast majority of folks attending had chosen to attend in either historic dress or in variations on a steampunk theme (though, one could argue, much of steampunk can still be tagged as historic). The gentleman pictured here had fashioned all of the cogs on the back, as well as all the scales on the shoulders, out of sculpey clay. He also had a belt-like addition across his chest with little sticks that were supposed to look like dynamite. At least, I assume they were supposed to look like dynamite.
One of the most interesting pieces (and probably most photographed) was a costume that fit under the steampunk and the vampire theme — in case I forgot to mention it, the theme for this year’s Costume Con was Villains, Vixens and Vampires. Anyhoo, the costume (the blue one seen here) was an absolute marvel of construction. It had a corset, a bustle, little steampunk additions — it was the bustle that really attracted everyone’s attention in the beginning. It was constructed – shall we say – unusually. She wore it both Saturday and Sunday, and the folks who ran the “Trash to Treasure” panel Sunday afternoon invited her in to talk about it. I found out later that there was actually more to the costume, originally, but it didn’t make it through customs; she owns a supply store up in Canada and had to fly down. The extra bits were supposed to emit steam from the bustle and pull up a section of the skirt. As it was, it was an awesome costume. And she even managed to get around the ever-present problem when wearing costumes to a con — the lack of pockets! Most costumes just don’t allow for places to carry the everyday flotsam and jetsam that we’re used to hauling around with us. This costumer, however, had made a wonderful panel on the front of the skirt that could be draw aside to reveal a whole front made up of pockets. The pockets were made of light blue organza, so you could see everything inside them. I’m definitely going to be stealing that idea.
The Fantasy/Sci-Fi Masquerade took place Saturday evening. The line was pretty long by the time we lined up, but we still managed to get pretty decent seats. We weren’t too far back in the audience, and we were close enough to the side in case one or the other of us needed to get up and go to the bathroom. I had my video camera out, but I honestly didn’t get many good shots. I was in a decent enough place to see the costumes coming out on stage, but not to photograph or videotape them myself.
Here are some shots that Maggie took over the course of Friday and Saturday at Costume Con:

First Costume Con post

Whew.

Costume Con was a week ago and I still haven’t gotten around to writing about it. I’m sorry. I just haven’t felt much like sitting at the computer for very long. But since I’m at work now and have to sit at the computer I figured it’s as good a time as any to start writing up my report.

The con was awesome!

Really, it was. It was fantastic. Looking back, I didn’t really do a whole lot in the way of panels and activities, but the panels we did go to (with the exception, perhaps, of the corset one) were amazing and fun and informative.

Like most cons I’ve been to, Costume Con begins on a Friday. Unlike the other conventions, though, there was a great deal of programming scheduled to take place on Friday. With both Polaris and SFX (the other cons we’ve been to, so far) the programming on Fridays usually consists of two or three late-night panels, a social, and mainly registration. Costume Con actually had panels and workshops starting around noon on Friday. I kind of wish I had known how early the Friday programming was going to start. There were a couple of panels we missed that I would have liked to attend. I had actually tried to find out from the folks in charge of programming when we should plan to get there but I never received any reply. That was the only big problem I could really find with this con…the poor communication with the folks in charge.

Maggie and I got Friday off from the coffee shop so we could attend to all of the last minute things we needed to do before heading out to Maryland. We had made the decision not to stay over at the hotel for the weekend, opting instead to commute back and forth each morning. The drive to the con on Friday was a little longer than we expected, due to traffic and weather concerns, but we still managed to get there in time for some fun.

Since we figured we’d be spending a lot less time at the convention on Friday we both decided it was the best day for our huge, hard-to-manuever-in costumes. In other words, we brought along our 2008 Halloween costumes – Pan (from Pan’s Labyrinth) and Po (from Kung-Fu Panda). Both costumes have limited mobility due to some serious foot constructs. Maggie, as Pan, is basically walking around on stilts, with the added obstacle of limited vision due to a full head mask. She can see a bit out of only one eye at any given time, and her hands are obstructed by gloves. She’s also tends to make a bit of a mess, walking around anywhere. The costume has a lot of moss and natural materials glued and sewn and otherwise adhered to it and these sometimes decided to abandon ship…all down the hallway. The shedding actually wasn’t all that bad this time around.

I was a bit worried about Maggie’s feet while we were there. I knew that stairs would be a problem for both of us, but less so for me. There had been a bit of a problem at Halloween with Maggie’s stilts (a part of them broke) and I was worried that something similar would happen this time around. However, she had managed to find something to put on the bottom to help distribute the weight a bit better (imagine a camel’s foot on the sand) and they worked just fine. The biggest problem for her the first day was making sure she stayed hydrated. The mask effectively retains heat, which is great for a cold Halloween evening but when you’re walking around indoors it’s not so nice.

My biggest problem Friday was not really costume related. I had been worried about my panda feet, originally. The shoes that form the “bones” of the panda feet are secured to part of the base with duct tape — a decision I regretted making when I wore them on Halloween. They creaked and popped when I walked, which got a bit annoying. I had originally intended to take them apart and fix them but I ended up spending so much time trying to fix my Tesla pants that I didn’t have any time to tend to the panda feet. To much surprise, this ended up not being a problem. When I wore them around the con on Friday, they held up surprisingly well and didn’t pop or creak at all.

The costumes were very much a success. Maggie was stopped all throughout the con for photos. I had a couple of folks stop me for pictures as well. Everyone seemed to think that my noodle hat was dumplings or ice cream, but I corrected them as gently as possible.

I had a couple of folks stop me just to talk about pandas in general. One guy told me about a British show called ‘Allo Panda. I’ve tried to google it, but I only came up with a type of Japanese cookie (or “biscuit”) called Hello Panda. Who knew? Another guy came over later and asked if I was from Ranma One Half.

I had been reclining on one of the extremely comfy couches in the hotel lobby when he came up. My feet were dangling over the edge of the armrest, which folks apparently thought was cute (keep in mind I still had my panda feet on, so they could see the paw prints I had painted on the bottoms of the panda shoes). Ordinarily I would have just sat in a chair but I had somehow managed to hurt my back earlier that day — one minute it was fine, the next I couldn’t even bend down to pick up stuff off the ground. The couch helped a bit, but getting up off of it was excruciating! Anyhoo, I had been napping nicely when the above-mentioned gentleman stopped to ask about our costumes.

It took me forever to figure out what he was saying. In fact, I wasn’t the one who figured out what he was saying. Maggie did. Apparently there’s an anime show called Ranma One Half, where one of the characters turns into a panda. Again, who knew? Apparently, Maggie did. I think part of my problem in figuring out what he was saying stemmed from my having just woken up from a nap. He kept saying “Ranma One Half” and I remember thinking “I can’t have been asleep for that long, that nothing he’s saying makes sense.” I think part of the problem was my sleepiness, another that I had never heard of Ranma One Half, and the last part of the equation was that he had kind of an interesting accent. I’m sure the part of my brain that should have been concentrating on the question at hand was busy trying to puzzle out where he was from.

The wait staff at the hotel restaurant sure got a kick out of my costume. We were standing outside of the restaurant (Maggie was posing for another picture) when I heard someone gasp and say “It’s the Kung-Fu Panda!” I turned around and one of the waitresses from Northern Lights (that’s the name of the restaurant) was hopping up and down excitedly. I walked over and asked her to give me a high four (my panda paw only has three fingers and a thumb). She did. 🙂

We ended up going in and sitting down for dinner in the restaurant. It was pretty empty at the time, but there were a couple of folks who were clearly there for the convention. We got a table (neither of us were confident about our ability to get into a regular booth with our costumes), and Maggie had to sit on the chair side. I had a bit of difficulty squeezing between our table and the one next to us, in order to get to my seat on the other side (Po’s tummy gets in the way from time to time) but I managed to get in. One of the folks at a table a couple down from us said he was interested to see how I was going to eat without getting anything on the panda tummy. I said it was easy. I then proceeded to cover Po’s considerable tum with a large table napkin.

Since Maggie was sitting on the side of the table with the chairs, she was able to look through the window at all of the folks walking around outside in their historic costumes. I couldn’t really turn around to see them, but I was having fun watching the wait staff as they went to and from the kitchen. Every one of them would sneak looks over to where we were sitting whenever they went to or from the kitchen, and would laugh to themselves. I’m sure it was fun for them to have a panda and a fawn sitting in their restaurant. Our waitress was ecstatic. She was the one who had come out and given me a high four earlier. When she saw where the manager was seating us she squealed “The kung-fu panda is sitting in my section!” She accidentally spilled our drinks when she brought them to the table, but we were both fine. I felt bad for her – she seemed incredibly embarrassed. Neither of us really minded, though…we’ve dropped so many things at the coffee shop that we tend to take things like that in stride. Maggie did get a free piece of chocolate cake out of it, though, since Allison still felt bad for dropping our drinks.

The hardest part of dinner was actually the eating part. There’s a good reason why clowns don’t eat when they are in makeup — it’s really hard! First of all, in order to set the makeup, you have to powder your face with baby powder, and a good bit of it gets in your mouth. It feels as gross as it sounds, trust me. I ended up having to go ut to the car and re-touch my makeup a bit before we went to the next events.

The big event Friday evening (well, the one we were looking forward to) was the Simplicity single pattern contest…

…which I will discuss in the next post. MWAHAHAHA!

(I have to get back to work)

Frustration!

So, work on the pants came to an untimely halt the other night. I needed to take them in quite a bit. The top of the pattern ended up coming out nice in the initial construction, but the legs were far too big for my frame. I took the pants over to the church the other day, planning to lay them down on one of the long tables in the fellowship hall. I frequently go over to the church to do my fabric cutting, as it’s really the only place big enough for me to do most of it. Here at the house I have only a small square table.

I neglected to bring along my measure tape and decided to use a pre-existing pair of pants in order to figure out the fit for my steampunk pants. I also decided not to try them on again to check the fit of the hips and waist (which, for the most part, were okay). I just got right to chalking what I thought I needed to take off.

Long story short, it was a bad idea. I failed to do a lot of things I usually do when fitting my pants and it definitely came back to bite me on the ass. Or the hips, I should say, as that’s the part of the pants that essentially ended up missing when I resewed the pants last night. I went to try them on and — pfhhhht….there, went all my hopes for a single pair of mistake-less pants.

I tried a couple of things to fix them, but none of them were working. At one point I just sat there, staring at the pants and thinking “well, that was a waste of fabric!” I actually threw them on the couch and walked away from them.

A couple minutes later, after I had calmed down, I decided to take another look. I had enough fabric to add in some patch-like sections. I drafted little inserts that incorporated the curve that I had somehow taken out of the hips of the jeans and started sewing them on. I got one side finished last night. The other side should be done tonight or early tomorrow morning. I’m cautiously optimistic that this will solve most of the problem. It may even wind up being an interesting addition (alteration) to the original pattern. We shall see.

The point of this entry is mainly to state the obvious: mistakes are going to be made in the course of costuming. I’ve been sewing shirts with sleeves for a number of years, yet I frequently sew them on the wrong way (with the raw edges of the seam on the outside, rather than the inside). In fact, I recently sewed the cuff of the sleeve for my steampunk shirt on the wrong way around – I swear, this costume has given me more problems than any other. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my first (oh, let’s say 50) zippers were horribly crooked. However, I would argue that some of the best touches to many of my costumes have come out of the mistakes I have made during construction.

I think one of the most important things to remember when something like this happens is that, honestly, most things can be fixed to a certain point. They will never be completely the same, of course, but most people, looking at pieces that you have put together, will have no idea that the finished product is not what you were originally planning to do. And, since most things can be adapted and “fixed” there is very little point in getting upset. Honestly, I’m a little surprised at myself for yelling at the pants (and yelling at myself for good measure — or bad measure, if you like). I mean, I once had a sewing machine needle break and fly off to lodge itself in my lower lip. All I did in that situation was say “Ow” quietly and head off to excavate the broken needle from my mouth. The pants really shouldn’t have annoyed me as much as they did.

So who knows. Perhaps these pants will end up being the most awesome thing I have ever managed to make. Or maybe it’ll just be an object lesson in remembering to measure twice, cut once.

Either way, I will try to come to terms with my massive mistake.

As my aunt once told me “Only the Creator makes perfect things.”

Deadlines!

So, the big shining event that has been marked on my calendar for at least six months (I’m pretty sure it’s been on there longer, but I don’t remember when I first saw the announcement for the event) is looming on the horizon. I know, how can something big and shiny also loom? Trust me, it can.

I am referring, of course, to Costume Con 27.

Costume Con actually grew out of regular, run-of-the-mill sci-fi conventions. Originally, people who attended these cons dressed in costumes were looked down upon by other attendees. The majority of folks who went to the first cons weren’t into the whole “dress like Shatner” thing, apparently, and the ones who did go in costume eventually got tired of being looked upon as weirdos in an admittedly already weird sub-group. So, those folks (my bretheren, as I shall call them) decided to form their own con, where they could have their own rules and non-cosplayers weren’t allowed.

So there!

Of course, cosplay as such was still in its infancy. It wasn’t even known as cosplay until a while later — 1984, apparently, is when the term was actually coined by Nov Takahashi at the Los Angeles Science Fiction WorldCon. In a lot of ways, cosplay is still in the lower levels of public awareness here in America. Popular culture is full of references to con-goers in costume (Trekkies, Galaxy Quest, an episode of Bones, etc), but most of these tend to be passing references and, more often than not, costumed con-goers are still looked down on by “normal” Americans. It is certainly not elevated to the same level as it is in, say, Japan. The Harajuku district in Tokyo (remember that one from the last post?), in addition to being populated by folks dressed in rockabilly styles, Goth-Lolita dresses and other forms of street fashion, is also frequented by anime/manga/video game cosplayers. To my knowledge, we don’t really have anything like that here.

Well, there’s something a wee bit similar out in California (www.mercurynews.com/breakingnews/ci_11680473), but I don’t really count that because for most of the people involved there is not usually a deep connection between their personalities and the characters they are impersonating. The Hollywood impersonators who stand outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre are mainly there for the money, though I suppose there is more to it than at first glance. There’s actually an interesting documentary called “Confessions of a Superhero” that follows four impersonators in particular – I encourage you to give it a look. I found it one day, over on Netflix You can watch it on your computer if you have a subscription.

Anyhoo, back to the main point of this entry: Costume Con.

As I mentioned, the concept for Costume Con grew out of some con-goers frustration at not being taken seriously at the first sci-fi conventions. In the time-honored tradition of ostracized subcultures they decided to make a convention of their own. The convention moves around every year – though a lot of them seem to happen out in the San Diego area. The upcoming con is the first in a while to be held near to us.

Wondering what exactly happens at Costume Con? Well, wonder no more!

Costume-Con is an annual conference about costumes. It features classes, exhibits, a fashion show, several masquerades, and other competitions. The convention is dedicated to the art and craft of costumes and costuming of all types. It has its roots in science fiction and fantasy conventions and historic re-enactment type events. That said all forms of costumes are welcome, and encouraged, including (but not limited to), anime, fursuit, steampunk, original design, interpretational, recreation, and so on. — from the Costume Con website

Maggie and I are both hurriedly trying to finish our new costume pieces. It was our intention to have finished steampunk outfits to wear to the con one day. At the moment, I’ve got a pair of pants that need to be taken in a whole lot and then hemmed, a shirt still in need of being sewn, a corset that just needs to have the rest of the eyelets sewn on, and a finished coat. I still have no idea how I’m carrying the gun. I think a trip to Unique might be in order. 🙂

As far as I know, Maggie just needs to finish her corset. She had originally started working on an original design for it, piecing bits together (and, in the process, trying to work in the several hundred red rubber bands she has collected from the coffee shop’s newspapers over the course of a year). Unfortunately, she said it wasn’t working out, and she ended up starting work on a new one. I have only seen the starting pattern for the corset. Judging by how she altered the other patterns she used, this one should be interesting.

Maggie and I signed up to lead one or two panels but we haven’t, as yet, heard anything back. We did, however, see a couple of listings of tentative panels up on the website that might be one of ours. At the moment, we’re just hoping they tell us whether we’re panelists before we arrive!

Here’s a sample of the type of panels that are going to be at Costume Con: 18th Century Historicals; Audio: Sound Mixing & Editing for Stage Presentations; Basic Embroidery; Basic Stage Movement & Presentation; Beginning Quilting for Art; Birth of a Simplicity Pattern (by a Simplicity designer); Building a Costume “wardrobe”; Evolution of Costume Design in Commercial Patterns; Fangs; Feathers; Hot Glue; Humor in Presentation; Intro to “cosplay”; Intro to historical costumes for movies; Leather – sewing techniques; Makeup; Quilting for costumes; Unusual Materials – Found Materials (we think this might be us); Wigs; Wings; Appliances & Prosthetics.

And that’s just the tip of the ice berg! So excited!

Now off to work on my corset! P.S…I’m working on it while manning the front desk at the office.