Thursday, 15 November 2012

Vána: Original Design

I have been a huge Lord of the Rings fan since I first saw the movies in early high school.  As I never got to see them in theaters I always thought that my chance to make a LOTR costume for a movie premier was long gone.  You can imagine my great surprise and excitement upon learning that the Hobbit would be made into a set of three films.  I decided that I would have to make an elven coastume for myself to wear to the film.  Unfortunately there are no female characters in the book to name the gown after so I then decided to name my gown after a Valier.  This way the gown would be somehow related to not only the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings but also to all the other works Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth.  I chose the Valier Vána because she represents the spring and that is my favourite season.


It took me a while to decide what design I wanted to do for Vána.  I knew that I wanted a simple gold under gown and a green over gown.  The under gown always stayed the same design, a plain long sleeved gown with arm ties for the forearm.  The over gown underwent many design changes and phases.  At first I wanted to have bell shaped sleeves on the over gown.  Then I decided that I wanted sleeves that opened from the elbow down, leaving a bunch of fabric to hang loose at the elbow.  I also experimented a lot with the neckline.  I first decided to have it match the under gown's neckline, then changed it to a low scoop neckline.  I finally settled on the triangular neckline.  I always wanted to have the rectangular cut outs in the skirt of the gown, though I was undecided for a while if I wanted to edge them or not.

Concept art


Under Gown: I chose to follow a pattern (for once) for the under gown.  I used Butterick B4827 with the thought that I would add ties to the lower arms.  I bought a pale gold, textured material (the texture was random crinkling here and there).  I am not quite sure what material it is as I didn't see a name to it when I bought it.  It had a nice drape and sheen to it; not too stiff and not too shiny.  I followed the pattern directions, altering it as I went for fit.  I am rather pleased with the turnout of the gown.  I used a gold coloured cord for the lacing in the back.  I added wrist ties out of the same gold cord to give a little bit more detail to the gown as it is a very simple pattern.  I really love this gown, I hope to get in a photo shoot soon, maybe when it snows for the first time.

Arm Ties
Finished back

Over Gown: For the over gown I loosely followed the same tunic pattern I used for Nausicaa that can be found here.  The fabric I chose was a dark green crushed velvet.  I would have preferred to use a jacquard or a stretch velvet but I didn't have the budget for that.  I made the gown slightly bigger than I would have made it normally as it was supposed to go over another gown that already had some substance to it.  The long hanging sleeves are lined and sewn onto the upper sleeves.  The side insets were cut so that the gap on the side of the gown would start from my knee.  I added a train to the back to match the train of the under gown.

This was my first time sewing a trim around sharp corners.  I found a really cool trim with a textured flower pattern that I thought would match to character really well.  I am really quite pleased with how the trim turned out.  I took my time sewing it so that I would look smooth and clean.  I didn't buy enough of the trim to add to the neckline unfortunately.  Maybe my next trip to Fabricville will include getting more of that trim!

Boots: The boots are the same ones that I used for my Nausicaa cosplay.

Cloak: The cloak was made out of an old curtain that I purchased at Value Village with the hope of being able to use the fabric for a project. It has a nice weave to it and a nice woody colour to it.  I have no idea what it is made out of but it is quite sturdy and easy to work with.  You can check out how I easily transformed the curtain into a cloak by checking my tutorial.

Belt: I found a really cool leaf maille belt at value village which I had to get for this costume.  It helps to give the gowns a little bit more form around the waist as they are both a little loose.

I really love how this costume turned out.  It is perfect for the winter which we have a lot of in Canada.  I can't wait to wear this to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in December!  I entered this costume into the Ottawa Pop Expo 2013 masquerade.  I didn't win anything but it was still fun to go on stage and show my work!

Completed Costume

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Shredder

This was a joint effort between my boyfriend and I.  I really wanted him to have a halloween costume and he decided to go as the Shredder.  Thankfully he decided to go with the version that didn't have a full suit if armour!  I was in charge of the actual clothing and he was in charge of the armour.  I helped out a bit with the armour whenever he needed an extra hand at cutting out shapes.


Tabard -  I followed a very simple pattern I found on We got dark grey suede as the material. The tabard came out a little thinner than I would have liked but it does the trick.

Sewing the Tabard

Shirt - We used a black crepe fabric to make the shirt. I folded the material and laid it down on the floor. I drew out the pattern on the fabric by folding one of his T-shirts in half and laying it along the fold line. I used chalk to mark it up and basically eyeballed the design, giving lots of room for seam allowance and length in the arms and shirt. I had to do this twice to get the front and the back parts of the shirt. After cutting out the basic pattern, I chalked out the neckline and cut that out. I made my first seam along the top part of the sleeves and the shoulders. Next, I sewed along the edge that started on the bottom of the sleeve all the way to the bottom length of the shirt. There was considerable editing with the side seams and much cutting of excess fabric. I cut and hemmed the sleeves, the neckline and the bottom of the shirt.

Drafting the shirt

Pants -  I used the same black crepe for the pants as I used for the shirt. I used the pattern provided on this site with some alterations with the measurements to meet my boyfriends needs.

Drafting the pants
Cape -  The cape was completely hand drafted by me. I started out with a rough sketch of the cape which consisted of a rectangle topped off with a semi-circle. Along the line between the rectangle and the semi circle would be the neckline. Once I figured pout what I was doing I just chalked it out on the fabric, leaving lots of room for errors. I turned the rectangle into a trapezoid so that the bottom of the cloak would be wider than his shoulders and thus have more swoosh to it. I cut the semi circle and the trapezoid separately with appropriate necklines and then sewed them together. I made an interfacing for the neckline out of scrap material that that it would be sturdier.

Armour -  We started on the shoulder and wrist armour first to get the right shape and size.  We drafted out a few shapes on poster board and cut them out.  Then we sized them up against my boyfriend to see which was the better template.  We used that template to then cut out two pieces of poster board for each armour piece (eight pieces in all).

Shoulder armour prototype
Before we put the pieces together, we had to decided how we were going to attach them to him.  The shoulder pieces we decided were going to be pinned to his cloak and his wrist pieces were going to be tied to his wrist. Since each piece was going to be made of two layers, we cut slits in the bottom layer to allow pieces of scrap material through, short strips for the shoulders and longer strips for the wrists.  Once the layers of fabric were in place, we glued the top and bottom pieces together and curved them.

Painted shoulder armour
My boyfriend drafted the claws on foam board and cut them out using an exacto knife.  We needed four pieces per armour piece so we had to cut out sixteen in total, along with some extras in case we screwed up somewhere.  They were were hot glued to the armour in the desired direction.  Before we painted them, we tried them on the costume to see if the attachments worked.  Once everything was figured out, they were all spray painted silver by my boyfriend.

Putting the helmet together
My boyfriend did the helmet completely himself.  He took a hard hat as a base and cut out small circular sections out of poster board.  He attached them all around the hat for the top of the helmet to try and make it as round as possible.  He them took an old coat hanger, unwound it and wrapped it around the base of the hat with one end sticking up.  The wire would support the spike that protrudes from the front of the helmet, which was also made of poster board.  He made the front lip of the helmet after the spike was attached.  To finish it off he added the neck protection.  He used the same silver paint on the helmet as he did for the armour.
Finished Shredder