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Friday, July 14, 2017

Once Upon a Runway: The Butterfly Dress

Hello, friends!

This post is one I am super excited to share with you. I'm sure I've mentioned it in the past a few times, but now that I finally have the time to write up a proper post, I can share and show all the details of this dress, and the crazy journey to its completion.

Today, we're going over the dress I made for the 2017 Liberty University FACS Fashion Show: Once Upon a Runway.

So, what jumpstarted the creation of this dress and my involvement in the fashion show? I went to the first meeting for the show, back in October of 2016, where the theme was announced and all the details were given to prospective designers. If there was any doubts in my mind whether I would take part or not, they left in a big hurry when the theme was revealed to be "Once Upon a Time" (all things fairytale, basically). Come on!!! For the girl who wants to make costumes for a living, I couldn't have thought of a better theme myself. :D

I went through several options for my inspiration piece (ranging from The Nutcracker ballet to the legend of Robin Hood), but, thanks to some encouragement from a fellow designer, I ended up going with my first choice and gut instinct: a butterfly dress, inspired by the traditional Chinese fairytale, "Butterfly Lovers."


Now, the fairytale itself is a little strange (as many fairytales go), but all that really mattered was the butterfly part. ;D SO, once I finally decided on the fairytale and the Blue Morpho butterfly as my inspiration. I got to designing...


I went through several illustrations in various mediums before I settled on a final drawing:

watermarked because, i dunno, would someone steal my concept??
So, we've got a design, now to start on the fun part: making the design a reality!!!

First up, I got to choose a model to wear my design at one of the casting sessions held for us designers. I met the sweetest, most amazing, beautiful girl named Berkley there (I'm pretty sure it was a divine appointment -- she was SUCH a blessing to me throughout the whole two semesters!!), and after she agreed to be my model and I officially selected her, I got her measurements and began draping the pattern for the dress.

back
front
The mockup took a couple evenings to perfect, and next up, it was time to make the lining, which I would try on my model to ensure the pattern fit perfectly before going ahead to the actual dress fabric. I decided to do only a partial lining, just for the top, to save myself some heartache. ;)

I used a yard of some lovely gray polyester lining I already had on hand, cut out the pieces, then basted them together by hand, so I could get those seams just right with the slippery fabric.




After trying it on my model, I was ready to purchase fabric for the actual dress! After doing a ton of research (and I mean, a TON), I finally settled on 5 yards of a gorgeous silver cotton velveteen (which is known for being easier to work with than silk velvet -- YAY), plus a brown cotton lawn with little thread tufts scattered throughout the fabric, both from fabric.com.  The velveteen would be used for the main dress (you know how a butterfly's body is kinda fuzzy? That's the effect I was going for ;D), and the cotton lawn would be for the backside of the wings/cape. Later on, I finally found the *perfect* fabric for the inside of the butterfly cape wings from Joann: a poly-blend satin in the most glorious shade of blue, with an absolutely gorgeous drape and hand.

samples of the fabrics used in the design, for the design boards on display at the show.
Now to finally start putting this dress together!

 



After the dress was complete and hemmed up all pretty, it was time to get started on the wing cape.

I cut out both the brown backing and the blue lining in the general shape of butterfly wings, then I got to painting the black veins on the blue fabric (which was quite the process. quite the LONG and STRESSFUL process. but oh so worth it in the end :D).




After the wings were all done, I sewed the backing and lining together (with the raw edges tucked inside, of course), and added wire to the top edges of the wings so they could be held out taught.


All that was left after that was to add snaps to the cape and dress at the top of the shoulder so they could be worn together seamlessly.

And that, my friends, is the end of the process of making the dress and the end of this post! Check back next week for the final pictures and videos of the dress, and the tale of everything that happened at the fashion show itself!!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Project Spider-Beth: The Photoshoot

As promised: a mini photoshoot with my Spider-man inspired costume for Homecoming! A huge thanks to my photographer, Russell. Enjoy. ;)







Just for fun, this was the picture I submitted to the contest, edited with inspiration from this infographic of the real suit. ;)

Friday, June 30, 2017

Project Spider-Beth: The Accessories

Bonjour, mes amis!

Quick announcement before I get into part 2 of Project Spider-Beth: I got Instagram! :D If you'd like to keep up with me a bit more personally, and be privy to behind-the-scenes pics of my current and upcoming cosplay/costume/sewing shenanigans, go follow. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Oh dear.  Now the pressures on for me to deliver some awesome content... ;)

ANYWAY.  Back to my Spider-Man cosplay-ish! Today, you'll hear all about the finishing touches to the costume: webshooters, boots, etc. So let's get into it!

Webshooters first.  I decided to take inspiration from the Peter's homemade suit from Homecoming, and have several web "cartridges" on a wristband below the glove. But, what could pass for a webshooter?

Hairclips, duh.

before...
after!
After getting those ready, I stitched up some leather wristlets, clipped the clips over the leather, and then added some fingerless weightlifting (hahaha) gloves to have some cool, quick webshooters.



Next up, let's look at the most difficult part of this whole costume. That I brought upon myself. Because it *should* have been one of the easiest parts -- just buy a pair of boots! Right? RIGHT?! No. Because I put myself on a very tight budget for this project, and we were already put on a very tight time budget.

So, the day before the photoshoot with the costume I had scheduled, I went on a calculated search for footwear.

I went in every store in our mall that sold shoes, and then, when I turned up nothing that would please me, at basically any price point, I knew what was coming. I booked it over to Joann, bought a couple yards of red faux leather, leather sewing needles, and zippers (which I ended up not needing), and drove straight home to make myself a pair of superhero boots.

In one day.


Now, for the process of making the boots... it was quite the adventure. I looked up some pattern ideas on the internet, put couldn't find anything that was exactly what I needed. So I free handed everything, with a bit of help from a pair of boots I already had, the internet patterns.

The key was trial and error, and the very convoluted pictures I got of the process reflect that, I'm afraid... I think I'll just dump them here in their relatively coherent order and hope you can understand the story of making boots for the first time, with no pattern, in one day. *cries just thinking about it* :D













A couple quick notes on the boots... obviously, there's a ton of things I would change in hindsight. For one thing, I didn't add an actual sole to them, so they're more like moccasin boots than actual boots -- but it turned out alright since I wasn't doing any serious walking in them. Also, I wasn't completely happy with the shape of the foot area... it was lacking something, though I'm not sure what. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: I wish I could have bought *apparel* faux leather instead of *upholstery* faux leather, because these things are almost completely unable to breathe. Which gets uncomfortable after a while, needless to say.

BUT, all in all, for my first pair of boots? I'm really happy with how they turned out. Easily one of my favorite parts of the costume, and mostly worth all the hassle. :D

We're almost done -- the last things to add was the "mask," which consisted of some Spider-Man inspired sunglasses from Amazon (which were actually the first thing I bought for the costume), and a nose/mouth mask made of a some scrap fabric.


And, that's my Spider-Man inspired costume! Get ready for the photoshoot, which I'll share next Friday!

Also -- who's ready for Spider-Man: Homecoming, releasing in just ONE WEEK?!?!