My First DragonCon Recap

Why hello there, all you lovely readers!

It’s been a month since we last talked because… well…

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First there was last minute DragonCon prep. And then DragonCon itself. And then the firm unwillingness to let it go.

But the time has come. Here is the overly detailed tale of my adventure with my two friends Ollie and Jo!

Wednesday:

I had everything packed ahead of time, except for the last minute stuff and snacks. That does not mean that I actually got out of my house on time, but that’s something I’m working on. The drive down was dull, but reasonably short, excepting the hour of traffic I had waiting to drive through Atlanta on the highway. 17 miles away from the airport for half an hour, and then another half hour to drive those 17 miles. But I finally got there and picked up my friends and we settled into our AirBnB outside the city.

Thursday:

We got up kinda late and did a bit of work on last minute costuming finishes, and then went downtown to pick up our passes. We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and then took one of the DragonCon Newbie tours, which was awesome and a lovely help, since we realized that getting off the MARTA would not necessarily require heading out to the street before the hotel. The walkthroughs were fantastic! Then we headed back to the house to finish most of the costume stuff we hadn’t done before. Oh, and we got arepas from this awesome local place called Arepa Mia which were fantastic and I’d definitely suggest going if you’re in the area.

Friday:

ariel

This was our Disney day. My friend Ollie went as Belle, since she had a costume from a few years ago Halloween that she wanted to reuse. Jo went as Meg from Hercules, and I went as Ariel from the Little Mermaid. I’ll go into detail on my costumes later, and unfortunately we didn’t get any group photos on any of the days, except for this selfie that I forced us to take to prove that we were in fact there together. And for posterity, etc. (If any pop up online, I’ll show them). Both Ollie and Jo got a lot of shout outs and photos, and I met an Ursula (and I totally had no idea what was going on when she came over… Definitely a running theme of my weekend). Also I definitely had someone ask if I was Anna from Frozen. May I mention that Anna does not have the monopoly on black bodices and blue skirts?

This was at the end of the day, so we were overwhelmed, tired, and so so happy!
This was at the end of the day, so we were overwhelmed, tired, and so so happy!

The first panel that we saw that weekend was the Legends of Tomorrow panel with Falk Hentschel and Casper Crump who were adorable. No lines for this one, we just walked right in. We tried to catch another DC television panel, but the line was huge, so we skipped it. We went to the first room of exhibitors which was overwhelming and exhausting… Outside of it, though, I got to meet my favorite blogger Jen of EPBOT and her husband, which was quite exciting. We went home, shed our hair extensions, heels (for two of us) and makeup, and we went out for pizza. Yummy yummy pizza!

Saturday:

tardis

I termed this our British media day. I wore my TARDIS outfit, newly revamped for the summer con, Ollie went as Clara Oswald, and Jo went as a Gryffindor headgirl (or maybe Lily Potter… It oscillated). So this was my second day in heels, but we were determined to see as much as we could. We got in a long line for the Flash/Arrow panel. It was nice to be in the shade of a building, mostly, but it was still nearly an hour of waiting… I got a lot of oohs and ahs from across walkways and the like of my costume, but few people got it until I turned around… I’m thinking of adding in a fascinator with the top lantern to help the effect.

I saw one of the cosplayers I admire, who I originally found through Peggy Carter cosplay research, KatarinaCosplay in her Captain Carter outfit (which is apparently from this game called Marvel Puzzle Quest, which I’m avoiding at all cost for fear of getting addicted…) and said hi briefly, but it was in the middle of the Marriott floor, so I didn’t stick around… And we were already late getting Ollie to the photo ops. The thing that was personally most squee-worthy for me on Saturday was going to the Walk of Fame and Allison Scagliotti’s line was almost completely empty, so I jumped in and got my Warehouse 13 Farnsworth signed… I’ve learned so much since I made it, but it’s still one of my first props and I would have always kept in a special place in my heart, but now even more!

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Right outside an Osgood found me (which I totally didn’t realize she was Osgood, because I’m silly), and we took a couple of pictures! We had dinner at the food court, then headed home to change before going back to Atlanta for the Heroes and Villains Ball. At this point my feet really hated me, so I changed into my Kaylee. I think we were all glad we went and tried it out, but it wasn’t something that any of us really needed to stay too long at so we about-faced and headed back home.

Sunday:

susan

This was my third day in heels and also our most panel-intensive day. Jo went as a casual Barbara “Babs” Gordon, Ollie went as Arya from Game of Thrones, and I wore my Susan Pevensie costume. We started our day at the Torchwood panel where we sat next to this awesome steampunk Ood. It was entertaining to look to the side and see an Ood nearly bending in half laughing. Because we all spent nearly the entire time laughing! Then we got in line for the Pond Family Reunion panel, which had already wrapped nearly all the way around the building before we even got there almost an hour and a half early. This time we were on the sunny side of the building, which was not the most fun, but the panel was worth it! Jo split off before the PFR panel to go to a Welcome to Night Vale panel, and after our panel Ollie and I headed to the Warehouse 13 panel which was hilarious!

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During the course of the day, Ollie found a lovely Sansa to have a “reunion” with, and all of the GoT group she was with loved Ollie’s costume. I saw both a White Witch in full battle regalia from the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, and a Susan in her green dress from the same movie. It was great seeing the Narnia family representing! After the Warehouse panel I was feeling a bit panic-attacky and all of us were getting tired, so we headed home. One of my favorite moments, though, was on the MARTA platform, when I was in the middle of removing as much as I could without losing things or revealing anything untoward, a young girl that was part of a non-DragonCon-attending family taking the same train as us told me that she really liked my dress. It’s one thing to get compliments from other costumers and cosplayers and fans of the fandom, but another to get them from a young girl who might one day group up to be a fan of the same thing, or her own favorite things and perhaps get dressed up herself. Oh, and we got pizza again. Because it was fantastic. I’d definitely recomment Fellini’s Pizza in Decateur GA.

Monday:

nausicaa

Last day of the con, and very few people were dressed up, so we stuck out even more. Which was nice. We did our Miyazaki group cosplay that day. I went as a summer-ish appropriate Nausicaa (with Teto!), Jo as Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ollie as Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service. Jo and Ollie were both instantly recognized by almost everyone, and they got lots of pictures. One of the first people we met that day recognized me and that made my day, since I was happy to be in sandals instead of heels and not corseted, so I had made up my mind early in my designing process that I wouldn’t even care if I was recognized. I was going to be comfy. A lot of people asked for pictures in all sorts of configurations of the three of us, which was cool.

Jo and I attended the Everyday Steampunk panel, which was full of great ideas, then caught up with Ollie for the final Legends of Tomorrow Panel of the weekend. No lines for either and we even sat in the first row of the Legends panel, because the lady in charge of seating liked our costumes. We then toured the exhibitor’s hall again, and I picked up a wooden sword and a lovely prop dagger with a lion on the hilt.

We parted with Hollyn who headed to the airport, and then drove back to my place.

All in all, it was a fantastic first convention, and definitely one that I’d like to attend again. In fact, I’ve been debating whether to buy next year’s ticket now…

I’ll start posts soon on the costume elements that I haven’t shown you yet, and soon I should be working on Cinderella and some non-costume sewing!

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But I will leave you, in the meantime, with a derpy picture of me in my Ariel costume… Because that’s how I roll!

Tale of Three Plushies

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Not only are my two bestest buddies joining me on my DragonCon adventure, but we’re doing two group cosplays, and a couple of weeks ago I had the most adorable idea…

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Nausicaa is not exactly the most recognizeable character, and because I’m really not a wig person, and I didn’t have time or cash to learn, I wanted to have at least one real prop for her. So I wanted to make a Teto plush. And then I realized that my two friends (going as Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, and Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service) could also have plushes! And that I could make them! Because I’m insane like that.

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I worked on the Jiji plush first. Jiji is Kiki’s companion, a sarcastic black cat that travels with Kiki when she moves away from home. I asked if my friend wanted to hold him, or if she wanted him to sit on her shoulder, and she chose the first option. So I made him a little oversized. It’s hard to tell from the reference pics I was using, since I don’t own the movie, but I think he’s technically a rather small cat, but the plush I made was more of a large cat. He’s the biggest of the three plushes, but since he’s black against a navy dress, I wanted to make sure he could stand out. The plush also looks much more like the toy cat in the movie, but I think the point gets across well. Plus mouths are hard…

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In fact I avoided the mouth completely… I ended up embroidering the eyes and nose, which took much longer than I expected, and then free forming the plush. Take it in a little here, and out a little there, add some more stuffing there and not here, etc. And I ended up with a loveable Jiji… until I realized I forgot the tail. And then once I remembered and added it, I ended up with a loveable Jiji!

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The second plush was Calcifer, since I wanted to get the plushes for friends out first… Calcifer is a fire demon that is under a contract with Howl, but really becomes best of friends with Sophie, so I thought he’d be better than Turnip Head, who I also briefly considered. I had this reddish wool coating ( I think) and attempted to make a 3D version. I intended to make the bottom perfectly round, using 4 panels, but it ended up a little boxier… I cut the top of the four panels to look like flames, and attempted to use a “facing” to make it a bit cleaner… and then had to hand sew the top shut.

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Then I painted the plush with some acrylic paints. Mostly yellow, since it “melted” into the wool like orange… I gave it two layers, one that went around the majority of the plush, and then a second to give the appearance of the “core.” And then I let it dry for ages, before adding puffy paint eyes. Once the puffy paint dried, I painted on the mouth and the irises. Isn’t he adorable? He’s not particularly cuddly, but I don’t think fire should be cuddly… right?

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So I then got started on Teto. He was the only one I actually bought fabric for, since I didn’t have fake fur or brown felty fleece, so I know for a fact that he’s made out of poly fleece. with poly fake fur. He’s an imaginary creature called a fox-squirrel, and has always been my favorite character in Nausicaa. I basically made tubes for the body and legs, and lightly shaped them into submission. Then I free handed the head and tail, and then shaped the ears. The ears are held up in part by cardboard inserts, and also by some clear fishing line attached to a hook and eye to the tail so the ears can either stick straight up or flop down when I want them to.

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The darker brown on the body is stitched on, as is the faux fur belly. The bib-like structure is lightly stitched, but the bottom is mostly left free to hang and move. The eyes are some green knit interfaced and then hand sewn to the head. Then I drew and painted on some high and lowlights. He’s designed to sit over my shoulder, which he does pretty well, and I’m terribly pleased with how he came out…

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And here ends the tale of three plushies! Do you have a favorite animated sidekick?

Sandals of Glory!

Otherwise known as my handmade sandals that aren’t terribly comfortable…yet, but they will be, and they are tailor-made for my feet!

Kaylee

I was looking for sandals appropriate for Kaylee and Nausicaa, since I don’t wear flip flop types and I didn’t want to wear actual boots in the Georgia late summer, and I found a couple in TJ Maxx that weren’t awful, but also weren’t perfect for my feet. I’ve got strangely shaped feet…

So I drew around my feet on tracing paper, and then added some clearance around… Too much in fact, so I ended up removing a lot, then I made paper “straps” to test the pattern, and then started winging it. I cut out four heel pieces, and then three soles and two straps for each shoe. I realized then that slide shoes were also not going to work for me. My feet don’t feel secure unless they’re tied or strapped into things, so I also cut some strappings to add to the heel to secure some ties.

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So I had bought a pack of Shoe Goo (side note, did you know it came in colors? I missed that fact when I got it from Amazon, and bought black… not a good plan… In hindsight I should have read the description better) and ended up using all 3.7 ounces of it. And all of the leather was from a couple of vegetable tanned leather bellies from Tandy. I had gotten a couple of extra the last time there was an online super sale of 10 dollars a belly. And by last time I mean a few years ago… It’s been awhile since I really worked with leather. This stuff is thick, but perhaps not quite as sturdy as real sole leather, but it’s working out so far!

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The heel came first. I glued the 4 pieces together with a (rough to smooth) and (rough to rough) then glued the sandwiches together rough to smooth leaving a smooth end on either side of the uber-sandwich… I used my swivel knife to rough up all smooth surfaces that were being glued with a crosshatch pattern.

For the straps I skived off the excess thickness and glued them in place to the first of the soles. For the hook at the heel, I couldn’t quite skive the leather thin enough, so I cut out a notch in the middle sole, and glued the top to that middle rough to smooth. And for good measure I glued the bottom as well, rough to rough, leaving smooth sides on the top and bottom.

binding

This might be a good time to mention that I was using HUGE binder clips as clamps. Which might not have been ideal, but they worked out pretty nicely!

A couple of hours later I glued the heel sandwiches to the sole sandwiches, but since my binder clips wouldn’t open that far, I got out my old biology and physics textbooks to weight it down (Campbell Biology for the win!), I think with a can of leather conditioner to help “concentrate” the weight in the proper place. I then left the shoes alone for some time to finish drying.

But when I came back, I found the left one was a little too big around the toe strap, so I glued the strap to the top of the sole on the edge to help reduce the length. I had to glue on both sides of the foot to properly balance it, but it’s been working out so far…side foot

I lace them up with some green leather round lacing that was a Tandy clearance buy a few years ago, and actually the same that I use to lace up my TARDIS corset belt. The ties run through slits I cut in the darker strap, then wrap around my ankle and themselves to cradle my foot. I tend to need to tighten them after a couple of minutes of wear, which I attribute to foot wiggling and leather stretching…

Another thing I’ve been doing is wetting the top of the sole lightly in order to bind to my feet a bit during wear, but also so it starts to take the shape of my feet. I know from experience that wearing someone’s well worn Birkenstocks can be uncomfortable because they start to pattern to their primary wearer’s feet, and that’s where I’m hoping to get with these. But maybe not that drastic. I’m definitely interested to see how they wear.

The other thing I’d bought for these were some rubber soles, but I haven’t actually put them on. I’m currently deciding if I really need to, and so far I don’t.

top

The past couple of weeks has been nuts with costume flurries, but slowly and surely I’ll be posting what I’m working on! DragonCon is in just over two weeks, and I’m not ready yet! Not even close!

Compression Coil

My backup costume is pretty much done!

Woot!

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I figured I’d get the backup costume done as quickly as I could, but realistically this has been mulling around in my brain for awhile.

The flightsuit/jumpsuit got to me in April, I think. Maybe March, but a long time ago. I actually went to my local surplus/costume/knick-knack store, and the owner sized me up and said that I would probably fit well in the child’s extra large. Which worked out nearly perfectly!

Realistically though, when I found the adult flightsuits at the back of the store they were as tall as I was. So the child’s size made sense.

It’s a lightweight poly-cotton, and straight from the package it fit well in the shoulders, and the chest, etc. Even the length from the crotch to the hem was good. The problem was the four inches of extra torso length. Four inches!

back

It did take me three or four months to actually fix this. And to be perfectly honest, I might have gone a little too far, but it looks great when I’m standing. And I can deal with it pulling a bit when sitting. There aren’t sleeves to deal with after all.

Dancing

The patches are wonderful! I got them from Ebay, and here’s the teddy bear, and the heart/flower combo. You can get the combo of all three here…

I sewed them on using a normal back stitch, but around the teddy bear I also added some fake blanket stitching. Then I took a normal marker to draw on some Chinese characters. Luck and love, if I remember correctly…

shirt

I made the top using the Nettie pattern from Closet Case Files, like I do all my t-shirts, and this weird stretchy fabric. It’s rather plastic-y even for polyester… But it is very Kaylee!

The sandals are not nearly the same as Kaylee’s but I did make them! There will be more on those later this week though.

Add in some pigtail buns and my parasol, and it makes a pretty smashing Kaylee!

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