Tale of Three Plushies


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…


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.


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…


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!


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.


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?


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.


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…


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!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!



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!


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.


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…


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!


TARDIS Television (Purse)

Here we have a brief return of TARDIS Tuesday, where I would update you on my progress on my TARDIS costume.


And now I’ve got one of the my favorite ideas (and perhaps most clever part, though I should probably not be the judge of that) of the costume to share.

I was looking at the console one day, and thought, Hmm, I’m going to need a purse thing… Why not make it look a bit like the TV?


So when I was working on the costume for Halloween (not last year, but the year before), I brought out the remainder of the pillowcases that I used for the “vest” or bolero thing, and worked with that.


The original version had pretty much no extra support, with just the thin fabric from the pillowcase flatlined to the same canvas like fabric I used to make my knapsack.

It did it’s job well the one time I used it like that, for the actual Halloween it was intended for, but it wasn’t structured enough for my plans. And it was unlined.


So I took it apart last weekend, and added stiff interfacing and a lining. The lining is from the taffeta I used on the skirt, so it’s a little stiff and won’t tolerate any stains. That I know from experience. But it’ll be nice to open it and feel pretty good about how the inside looks! Excepting the bridge portion… Don’t look at the bridge portion…meccano

The purse itself has two hooks, which hook into the Meccano ladder piece, and that ties onto the leather corset belt. I don’t have a finished pic of the interfaced version with the corset belt, but it’ll pop up soon!

Oh, and I glued a dial on the side for a handle, and to sell the TV angle a little more. I thought about how to make it spin, but gluing in place just seemed so much easier. And it was!