Monday, January 24, 2011

Costume Journal: Ice Cream

So I thought it would be fun for me and maybe useful to some of you to occasionally post "Costume Journals" about some of my projects. I think they'll be less tutorials and more logs of my process in creating something. But please feel free to ask questions! Also, I am really interested in hearing other cosplayers' opinions- comments, criticism, how you would do something differently, etc. Please share your thoughts!

As I mentioned in the last post, my friends and I chose a dessert theme for this year's Santa Photo. Arika had made some cute designs along this theme, and I liked her take on "Ice Cream". 

The very first thing I do when I begin any costuming project, no matter how big or small, is make my own reference picture. Usually this is quickly hand-drawn,  as a way for me to think through the pieces and the steps of making them. I also take a lot of notes about materials, colors etc. and make decisions about where to put buttons, zippers, and so forth. Arika's design didn't show the back, so I also had to design that. I also figured out yardage and costs.

As you can see, designs are cute. Reference pics: practical
You'll notice the only changes I made were to add some beads as sprinkles on the top and cherries along the skirt trim, and I added kick pleat to the back of the skirt with an accordion fold insert. I also chose a mint chocolate color theme since I thought the green would look more Christmassy.
I made the skirt first, since it was the easiest. It's a basic pencil skirt- I had to make my own pattern based off another skirt I own because it's difficult to find sewing patterns in Japan (that aren't part of a giant book of scaled-down patterns). I chose to use a wool-blend boucle for the skirt because I thought a large weave would give it a waffle-cone look. I cut it so the weave would run diagonally- this is called "bias cut". Cutting fabric on the bias is useful in many ways, as it adds flexibility and helps prevent fraying. In this case it was just done to look more like an ice cream cone. The trim is the same green poly-satin I used for the top. The boucle was a pretty heavy-weight material so I didn't bother lining it.

Bias-cut boucle skirt, with poly-satin trim.

One important note on using boucles: they fray like crazy. Which means normal seams will come apart. So you can either finish them off with a serger, a lot of bias tape, or you can do a French seam. (You can Google that one, but it will probably confuse beginners.) Or you can do what I do, which I call a lazy French seam. I add extra seam allowance, sew the pieces together, then with pins I tuck the raw edges of the allowance inside and make a kind of seam allowance sandwich. Then I top stitch it down.

Next, I again had to make my own pattern for the top. I hate making bodice patterns, I think it's easier to modify an existing pattern for them. But again: Japan, seriously lacking in sewing patterns. So I found an old t-shirt that was non-stretch like the poly-satin I had chosen. For new sewers, this is very important!! If you're going to make your own pattern, be sure not to mix up stretch and non-stretch garments. If I based my bodice pattern on a regular stretch t-shirt, the non-strech satin bodice would not have fit me. So here you can see the pattern I made from the shirt, by tracing the seam lines and adding a little under an inch for seam allowance (technically, it should be 5/8", but it's ok not to be exact).

I put together the bodice, lined it with a black poly-satin of the same weight, then used some wax paper to make a pattern for my fudge applique. Again, I added allowance for turning under raw edges, this time about 1/3-1/2". I cut the applique out and sewed it into my unfinished top seam. Next I made very small cuts all along the edges of the applique, to allow it to turn under more smoothly. I used Clover's fusible webbing, which you simply place between the layers of fabric and iron together. I usually love Clover products, but I thought this had too high a melting temp- I prefer Steam a Seam. 

Last, I put an invisible zipper in the back, made some sleeves (basically tubes of satin gathered and attached along the side seam of the top) and finally added the beads as sprinkles. I won't even go into how I made the hat since I am very bad at hat-making, and only barely pulled it off. :(

I made this costume using a Brother machine I borrowed from a co-worker. It's a Japanese model, but it's fairly similar to Brothers I've seen before. The big difference: this one has a start/stop button and a speed dial (which I believe is a common feature on new machines in the US as well) but... no pedal! It was kinda like learning to sew all over again, lots of skipped stitches and frustration >.<; Otherwise, a good machine.

The finished product!

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