Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Aftermath LARP: Post-apocalyptic mayhem

John here, reporting in after another LARP event. This time, Diana and I went to Aftermath, at Lake Murray, Oklahoma. We were hanging out with such creatures as cyborgs, gunfighters, bug-men and barbarians. It was a great event, I just wish I had more time to work on my costume beforehand.

I've got more tutorials planned, like weathering leather, painting Nerf guns, and making holsters and cartridge-belts.

I've also got new ideas for my Austin LARP chapter that will be starting next year.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Sewing Machine?

If you've just started costuming, it's very likely that you've never sewn anything in your life. Why should you? Your clothes are already put together when you get them from the store, and you have people like moms and great aunts for when a button falls off or you need that bridesmaid dress hemmed.

So you think "Sewing is hard, and sewing machines are scary. I'll just buy a costume." Neither of those thoughts are true! Sewing is easy, and sewing machines are fun and fast. If you scour garage sales and especially estate sales, you can find old but AMAZING sewing machines for very very cheap prices. Like under $30! Take it into a shop for a quick tune up and you'll be set to go for years, and if you do break it, well...it's not like you spent your life savings on it. Old sewing machines also have the advantage of being harder to break and easier to fix when they do mess up because the insides are more metal than plastic and have no electronic parts.

Also, if you buy a costume, you can't be sure of the quality or the fit. (Of course the same goes for most first-ever-costumes, but you'll improve quickly and save a lot of money!) This goes for everything from renfair wear to cosplay outfits. I could buy a skirt for renfair for $50, or I can spend $15 on fabric and two hours of my time to make one which I'm sure is the perfect length and fullness. Also, there is a certain attitude towards store-bought costumes, particularly in the cosplay community. In cosplay, making your costume is considered 75% of the hobby itself, and many people consider buying a costume a kind of cop-out. Many cosplay contests do not allow costumes that you did not make yourself. It definitely differs from place to place and person to person, but is something to keep in mind. You'll have much more cosplay street cred if you make it yourself.

Maybe you still think, "Okay, I want to make my costume, but I don't believe you that sewing is easy! That's why glue was invented! And if that fails, there are staples! And that no-sew iron-on stuff!"  Yes. Those are indeed options. BUT...

If you want your costume to be worn for more than a few hours, if you want it to look sharp and pro, if you want to be that costumer who people come up to and ask to have pictures taken with...you should definitely man up and learn to sew. Would you buy/wear a prom dress if you saw that the manufacturer had just glued together? Probably not. And the best part--sewing is EASY. No really! I think it's easier to whip something through a sewing machine than to painstakingly try and glue fabric. It's definitely faster and less messy.

So. Have I convinced you to make your own costume? Have I convinced you to sew it instead of gluing it? Good! Stay tuned for the next parts!

Coming Soon:
Sewing Vocabulary and Hand Stitching
Using a Machine
Deciphering Commercial Patterns

Monday, September 5, 2011

Maternity Costumes

The Lake Gown.
By the time Halloween rolls around, I'll be 6 months pregnormous and of course not able to fit into any of the costumes I have on hand.

Which means making a new one!! John is hosting a small local local LARPing even on Halloween, and the theme is renfair...so there's that. I'll probably modify an old empire-waist fairy dress for the occasion. It will be comfy and cute and adjustable for the unpredictable central Texas weather.

However. Ever since I saw Episode III I've wanted to do a pregnant Padme costume. Particularly her steel silk nightgown. It's so flowy and beautiful, one of my favorites aside from the Lake Gown. Which, according to Dressing a Galaxy, George Lucas originally wanted to CG onto Natalie Portman instead of making a costume, but the costume designers were like "Um, don't be stupid." And so the Lake Gown was born. Both of those are incredibly challenging materials and designs, and I could just as easily wear them if I wasn't pregnant at all.

Brown Sleeveless
My other option, which would probably be more comfortable and recognizeable, is the Brown Sleeveless costume. A person has to be fairly convincingly pregnant to pull this one off. My friends and I have all considered making this one at one time or another, except that our parents would all probably have flipped out over pictures of us dressed up as if we were suddenly 8 months pregnant. I'm definitely leaning towards this one. The more I think about it, the more I realize it would also fit my budget much better than the other two. And I can also see the brown sleeveless outfit being easily altered into a post apocalyptic costume... Okay I've talked myself into it.


Pictures from the amazing Padawan's Guide!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A-Kon Follow up...finally!

Hello again blogosphere! (Do I get points for using that word? Or maybe points taken away?)

Random Lightsaber Duel!
It's been a while but I'm finally feeling better, along with actually looking pregnant and not just like I had too much to eat at lunch. This is a good thing because it means that all is going well with my unborn future costumer, but it is a bad thing because I desperately need a job and am afraid of that little thing called discrimination. Ugh.

We left off right before A-Kon 2011 in Dallas, where I was supposed to try and survive the con as cheaply as possible. Unfortunately, Friday night I had some serious complications due to the pregnancy and when I called my doctor first thing in the morning, he put me on bed rest until I could go in and see him. Obviously that changed things quite a bit. He didn't think that I had miscarried or he would have sent me to the hospital right away, but he told me to be as careful as possible and come see him as soon as I was back in town. It was very, very scary.

I'm not stoned, just seriously ill!
The rest of the day I limited myself to my comfy post at the infodesk, minus an hour nap in the crashspace (I got a bed to myself), with meals delivered to me by my wonderful brother, and a wheelchair for the brief time I felt up to seeing some of the con. People gave me some funny looks seeing as I was still dressed as Chell, but the joke was that my long fall boots had malfunctioned. Fitting!

I'm SO glad I wasn't at the con by my self. Without John, I would have had to call someone to come and get me and bring me home. But since he was there to take care of me, things turned out fine. He even took me to TGI Fridays for dinner Saturday night. Everyone at the infodesk was very understanding and even let me switch my hours so I could do them all on Saturday and go home Sunday morning. Let this be a lesson that you should always have at least one buddy if you're going to a con out of town! You never know what might happen and when you might need someone.

Thankfully, when I went to the doctor he was able to figure out the relatively minor problem which had caused so much trouble, and everything was fine with the kiddo. Still, I was put on medium-bed rest for the remainder of my first trimester. (Allowed to walk around a little, but otherwise no physical activity.) Let me just say, without Pokemon Black I would NOT have gotten through the following eight weeks...

Aaron carries all his leatherworking tools!
John says that despite all the drama, he still managed to have a good con. Not wearing a costume and not being tied to a huge group of friends and having a nice disposable income can make conventions incredibly stress-free and fun. Aside from occasionally wheeling me around and bringing me food, he could do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted to! He had a chance to see lots of cool stuff and meet lots of interesting people.One such interesting person was Aaron Rathbun, pictured on the right. He is a leatherworker who carries all of his tools with him and likes to work out in public where people can see and get interested. Check out his website at http://white-cobra.blogspot.com Aaron and John even helped in one of the leatherworking panels, and John hopes that the A-Kon staff will let him present an advanced leatherworking class next year. 

Since then I moved to San Antonio so that my super-smart husband (no really, he got a perfect score on his SAT in high school) can go to grad school. John's been working and working out in preparation for the Spartan Race which is coming to Texas in December. We're still working on the website, adding articles and tutorials as we have time. Someday it will be...amazing!


P.S. When I was looking through the tags on blogger I noticed my "Con Horror Story" tag...I think that this con certainly fit that description!