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Lady Shada Ersari
I realize I never posted pictures of the Asajj Nightsister costume.  I happened to be sick the day I wore it to Celebration.  I hated the new makeup I was trying out.  And overall, I felt awful about the entire result.  So the one picture I have, I hate.  This one has been shelved until I find new courage to go back out and attempt it again.  I really hate when I get sick at cons.  It always puts a damper on the entire weekend.  But on to bigger and better things.

It's 2014.  Which is utter weirdness.  Last year, I actually accomplished a Renaissance dress of my own creation.  Nothing movie-based.  Nothing crazy.  Just something fun to work on.  I picked up some cheap fabric from WalMart, and I sat down to sew.  I also sat down to learn how to use my new toy: a serger.  I then managed to serge/cut a nice little hole in the front panel of my dress.  Luckily, I had enough fabric to make a new panel, sew it in, and finish the entire thing.  I really love it.  It's a little large in the chest area, but it's roomy and comfortable.  The pull-on bodice piece is a bit large, as well, but again - it's comfortable, which is a welcome change from the lace-up bodice I usually wear to the Ren Fest.  I don't have pictures to share just yet, but perhaps sometime soon.

Now, I'd like to move on to this crazy little idea I cooked up in 2013.  I'm not even sure where it came from.  But it came in a flash, and that flash was a name - Bellatrix Lestrange.

Bellatrix from Harry Potter.  The crazy, evil villianess of awesome.

I can't help it.  Villains fascinate me.  Asajj is fantastically fun to costume.  You can be all dramatic for pictures, and then be really nice to little kids.  (It's sort of a weird mix of good and evil as Asajj...I hate to scare the little ones because I have before - lol).  And I think Bellatrix is a nice fit for me to try on next.

Starting with a Butterick pattern #5490 for a base, and will probably modify and create pieces on my own.  Thanks to an awesome friend, I have the wand ready to go (straight from England!).

And thus the adventure begins...
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
02 August 2012 @ 12:29 am
...I think I've got it.

After a couple of posts on Facebook threatening to throw my sewing machine against a wall, I think I've managed to come to a happy place with this Asajj Nightsister costume.

The pieces that I thought would give me the most trouble turned out to be some of the easiest to complete (shin guards and arm bracers).  The pieces I didn't think would give me trouble have actually made me want to slam my head into a wall (belt, sash, hood, neck seal).

For the last two days, I've been taking pieces of the costume to work.  Yesterday, I took some spare crafting paper, a pencil, my laptop (armed with pictures), and I used a ruler, a pencil and scissors to draft me out a nice little belt pattern during my lunch hour.  All while listening to The Muppets soundtrack.  I rocked that lunch hour, let me tell you. 

So that night, I ended up making the first part of my belt/sash (which I now realize I made a bit too big, but not big deal there).  I tried to figure out how to attach my belt buckle and my medallion after that.  I had originally intended on using magnets.  Adhere a magnet to back of sculpy piece, put magnet back in appropriate place on other side of dress, boom - instant stickage.  Except the "super" magnets I bought from JoAnn's aren't the "super" magnets that they used to sell.  They aren't super at all, actually!  Well, super crappy, maybe.  But yeah...

So my husband and I made a trip to Home Depot to find some stronger magnets.  I picked up two of the smaller sizes, thinking that they'd do exactly what I needed.  No such luck. 

Thus...another night of wanting to pound my head against a wall.

So today, I armed myself with more belt material to take to work to play with on my lunch hour.  I didn't get a lot accomplished, but I did start to play around with some design ideas to get the sashes to hang properly, so I was semi-productive.  Work itself turned out to be sort of an utter nightmare in the afternoon (including 2 1/4 hours of overtime which was not planned), so my plans for the evening sort of got erased.  It happens, though. 

So after my husband talked me down off a ledge, he told me he'd bought something today at Meijer during his lunch hour.  He pulled out the right size SUPER magnet that I needed but had neglected to buy at Home Depot!  He's awesome.  He really is. 

And what's even better...  IT WORKED!  My original idea which failed 3 times before actually worked on the 4th time.

If at first don't succeed, right?  Right.

So the magnets are a win.  Which gave me courage to try something else - the neck seal piece.  I cut out a little demo from my dress fabric (not wanting to use my "good" stuff since I only had a yard of it).  At first, I couldn't even put my head in the stretch collar I created.  Then I realized, duh - measure your neck.  From then on out, it was a piece of cake.  Got something decent I liked, created a paper pattern version of it, and then cut into my good fabric.

Now...my good fabric is actually used.  And it's a skirt.  Specifically a skirt I found at the thrift store sometime during the late winter months, when you can still find velvety-type material stuff at the thrift store.  I honestly couldn't find a thing at JoAnn's or online that I liked when it came to this material.  So I went to the thrift store, scoured the skirt section, and found something that I loved.  It equates to about a yard of fabric, so not bad.

Pinning this collar down is the hardest part because I have no dress form.  I have to alternate between pinning while holding the items together and pinning while the dress and collar are situated on me.  It's not easy, but I make do with what I have.  :)  I came up with a pretty decent looking neck seal.  It's not quite there yet, I don't think.  But I'll tweak it more tomorrow.  For now, I'm tired.  But I feel pretty accomplished!
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
18 July 2012 @ 10:09 pm
So I sort of ended up scrapping my original idea for the arm bracers.  Number one reason - I hate the fabric I'm working with.  But anyway, it's what I have, so I'm going with it for now.  Like I said - if I ever care enough to remake this costume, the bracers and shin guards will be the first things remade.

My original design idea was to create a costume vinyl "sleeve" with a little thumb loop to keep the bracers in place.  Ran into some issues here, though.  I have very tiny wrists and very wide palms - doesn't leave a very big opening for you to slip your hand into when you design the thing like a sleeve/glove.  I didn't want to bother with trying to figure out how much seam allowance I needed to install a zipper or where I needed to place a zipper for the best hidden location.  So I simply cut out my basic shape, kept trying on the bracer, and eventually ended up with something fairly decent. 

Except one of them is very tight in the palm.  It keeps sliding, regardless of whether or not I have the thumb strap looped into place.  And the fabric of my battle dress sleeve bunches underneath everything and can be rather irritating if the bracer is too tight.  On top of all of this, I was going to create "braclets" of elastic to slip on the plastic design pieces that are part of the bracer.  When I added my looped bracelets overtop of the already-too-tight bracer...things just go more wopperjawled, and I just couldn't stand it.

Then brainstorm.

Velcro is my friend.  Instead of entirely sewn together looped bracelets, I can use velcro to fasten them in place on my arm.  So I tried this idea (with the bracer that fits a little looser), and I liked the overall look of it.

But that darned bracer is still hard to get off my arm.  Even with the somewhat tiny stretch vinyl I have.

And then I stretched my fabric....to realize I had placed the stretch up-and-down the length of my arm.  Not across my palm, like I should have. 

This might not make sense to anyone else because I feel like I'm rambling...but geez, I felt foolish.  lol  So now I'm thinking about using my current bracer as a pattern, cutting out two new ones with the stretch going around my hand, see if that allows for more comfort and better fit, and go from there.  I've got one entire set of arm designs done and ready to go.  I can finish the other set tomorrow with no problem.  Just need to glue on one set of plastic designs and then add velcro to all three pieces.  But there's no way I'm doing anything else tonight.
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
17 July 2012 @ 11:01 pm
Yes.  I was singing Queen when I finally felt like I'd accomplished something this evening.  I finished my two shin guards (added some hot glue into the mix for a quick-fix problem I was having with the superglue).  And I already realize the pieces that will get remade if I ever care enough about this outfit to remake them - lol.  The shin guards and arm bracers will be the pieces that need the most work.  That being said...

I first wanted to start off with a couple of pictures that I'm using for reference when it comes to this costume.  The costume originates from Season 3 of the Clone Wars cartoon.  It's quite a stretch out of my comfort zone (hello, short skirt!), but with the addition of dancing tights for the Asajj skintone and black shorts (which are screen-accurate), I feel pretty comfortable each time I've tried on what I'm calling the "battle dress".  No pictures of that thus far, but I'll try to take some in the future.

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(click thumbnails to enlarge)

My goal for this evening was to finish the shin guards and do some more work on the arm bracers.  I accomplished both of those goals, and I was able to try on the shin guards and take a few pictures.  The first is a reference shot from the cartoon.  The next two are my fab feet in my awesome boots (purchased from Target.com - love those things).
Ventress boots  Photobucket  Photobucket

I know they look shorter than the cartoon shin guards.  But I have shorter legs.  And they're proportionate.  I did my ratios.  ;)

I got some more work done on the arm bracers, too.  Mostly I'm working on the "strapping" part that covers the actual bracer.  I'm not really happy with the design method I've chosen, but it's easier than me trying to figure out how to construct one entire bracer and add a zipper.  But they're darned hot, and that'll be a problem in Florida in August.

More work on the arm bracers tomorrow as the husband will be out with coworkers for a golf outing (if it doesn't rain).  So I'm thinking of taking myself to Panera Bread for potato soup, some costume research, and then home again for more costuming. 
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
16 July 2012 @ 11:56 pm
So I've started to heal and relax a bit more.  The meds that the doc gave me helped a bunch, and now I'm starting to feel more like me.  Therefore, I'm back to work!  I ended up getting involved in the shin guards and the arm bracers for the Nightsister Asajj costume.

Now...I've been having some issues here lately with my costuming.  I feel like the more research I do in the costuming community, the more I feel like I don't really belong.  I feel like all of these people have more talent.  That their things look better and more professional.  That I'm just an amateur and not even in a league of "costuming".  And then I remembered that I originally started this to have fun.  And as it has developed over the years, I started to pride myself on learning new skills and getting others to realize that they can cultivate their own skills and create things they never even dreamed were possible.  I've talked to some new costumers who have good first starts and just need a little push to get their creative juices flowing even faster.  That's been really cool to see.  And it's neat to see what you're able to create just being "ordinary" and not having skills like leather working or professional make-up artistry or a serger (I have a simple sewing machine, that's it). 

So I want to try and get back to who I am.  I want to remember that I do this on a budget.  I don't go out and spend hundreds of dollars to create something.  I try to make something out of nothing and just put a little bit of creativity with it.  That being said - my stuff isn't perfect.

I've been working with superglue.  It's great.  It makes anything stick (except - apparently - velcro and elastic to a plastic tub, which I just find weird).  The bad thing about superglue.  It gets everywhere.  It gets on my fingers.  It gets on other pieces of my costuming, which sucks because, really, how do you get superglue off tin?  So...I'm chalking my mistakes up to "weathering", and I'll just go with it.  ;) 

I've been working on the shin guards a lot lately.  I cut out my "base" for the guards from a round plastic jug I picked up for a dollar at the Dollar Tree.  I actually had two jugs, and they've come in very handy.  They make up my base, but they also helped me create the ornamentation at the top and bottom of the shin guards.  I then cut out little pieces of tin (from a "For Sale" sign I picked up for around a dollar), and I glued those to the plastic pieces.  Then glued everything on to the "base", which I covered using some costume vinyl I had leftover from my original Asajj costume.  The design on the guards was a pain in the butt, lemme tell you.  I drew the design using Paint.net on my computer (similar to PhotoShop,  but free!).  And then I replicated the design and sized it down and repeated and etc...until I got the design I wanted.  I printed it out on cardstock, and then took 45 minutes to cut out each shape using a x-acto knife.  Pain.  In.  The.  Butt.

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That being said, I used some paint that I had tested on my fabric months earlier, and just stenciled in the design.  Worked pretty well, I think.  Lastly, the guards will be held to my boots using a length of elastic and some velcro to allow for adjusting as necessary.  Still working on this one as the superglue won't hold my velcro to the elastic (weird), and it won't hold the elastic to the plastic "base" (double weird).

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The arm bracers have been a pain, as I couldn't find any fabric that had the look I wanted.  So I improvised yet again and used some more leftover costume vinyl.  It took a lot of trial and error to find a pattern that worked well with my hands.  Lots of basting.  Try on.  More basting.  Adjust shape.  Cut.  More basting.  Adjust shape.  Stitch.  Pull basting stitches.  Etc.  It was annoying, but I feel rewarded now!  I got an idea from a message board that I should add a little thumb strap to keep the bracers in place, so I sewed that in this evening, and I think they fit pretty well.  Now, these will have three little straps that go across the wrist, the mid-forearm and the toward the top of the forearm.  I'm still working on those, but I have a model that I'm going to use.  My pieces are cut and glued, and I just have to assemble.  These will work like bracelets for now; I'm making them on little strips of elastic that will slip over my hand and onto my arm.

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That's it for this update.  Hey, at least I'm trying to take pictures now.  lol  I need to get back in the groove of being "me". 
 
 
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
08 July 2012 @ 10:05 pm
So my plan for the one free day that I've had in ages was to actually sit down and sew. 

Until I pulled some set of muscles ranging through my lower neck down through my upper back, preventing me from turning my head to the right, lifting my right arm very high, bending over, or tilting my head down to look at the table or anything like that. 

So I was forced to sit in a chair with a heating pad, trying to research how I wanted to proceed with my Nightsister Asajj costume - if at all.  I have to admit, I haven't been motivated.  I've been more stressed than happy about Celebration VI coming up in August.  I'm mostly just looking forward to the vacation, and part of me could care less about the costuming.  I've gotten only so far on things, and I just feel...tired.  I feel like I'm trying to sew to please other people (i.e. screen accurate, avoid unpleasant stairs, etc.) instead of trying to please myself and enjoy my costuming.  I think maybe that's what's causing the main problem. 

But that being said, I have purchased new make-up for Nightsister Asajj, as she's a Clone Wars design and doesn't use my typical colors that I have for comic book Asajj.  I picked up some Paradise cake make-up, water-based, because I wanted to see if I could find something that didn't dry my face out like the Ben Nye MagiColor.  The Ben Nye worked well with the bald cap, but as the Nightsister requires no bald cap, I wanted something that felt lighter and would look more natural.

I got my wish with the Paradise make-up.  I love the coverage.  It went on perfectly with a makeup brush that I purchased at Meijer.  I also picked up some purple for the "accents" on Asajj's face.  It was so easy to paint those on and make them look decent with just a simple little lip liner brush and some water.  Picked up some new eyeliner.  Tried a lipstick I didn't care for, but I went out and found a replacement the next day.  So that's done.  I also realized I could add back dimension to my face and blend in the purple accents by using a light dusting of silver eyeshadow when needed.  It made a big difference, plus it adds a bit of shine to the face.  (I still think Asajj is a bad-to-the-bone-girly-girl, so I tend to use a bit of glam when I can.)  Picked up a pair of false eyelashes, too, but I haven't figured out if I want to use them just yet.  We'll see.  I also have a nice purple eyeshadow that I used for a bit more color.  Other than that...it didn't take much.  So I was happy with the makeup I have, but I need to do more test runs. 

As for the costume itself, I have a lot of work to do, and I've been writing out notes so I know where I want to start next.  I think the thigh highs will be first on the list.  I need to add elastic at the top of the thigh highs and simply finish off the bottoms (if I care enough; they won't be visible anyway).  That will finish off that piece.  Then I'd like to move back to my idea of how to make the "hood" of the costume.  I have a prototype floating around (made out of a fabric and part of a plastic milk job - still working on that, hehe).  The neck cowl will come next, and I think that will be pretty easy to create.  I'm thinking that it will probably have a small zipper in the back, but I'm not 100% certain that's necessary just yet.  Still working out fabric choices and how it will all come together.

I'd post some pictures, but my camera is downstairs...and...well, frankly, it hurts to move from my chair.  lol  I managed to put some laundry on, and my husband just sort of looked at me like I was crazy and just wanted to hurt more.  But I have to do something!  I hate feeling like an invalid.
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
11 February 2012 @ 04:26 pm
I'm workin' today.  Not on anything that would earn me pay, which is both good and bad.  But I pulled out the Nightsister Asajj to do a little work.

I finished up the dress, sewed on my sleeves and did a LOT of adjusting to get them to fit correctly.  That's what I get for drafting my own pattern.  It becomes a challenge to get everything to fit perfectly, and I HATE sleeves anyway.  They never seem to work exactly like they should.  But I got these to look pretty decent, then seamed them up a little closer to my skin so they weren't so baggy.  Hemmed up the sleeves to the correct length, and the dress is looking pretty decent.  No collar or hood yet.  I have to figure out how to draft that, but I'll come up with it soon, I'm sure.  I bought a skirt at the thrift store to use for the fabric as I just couldn't find the right color and type at the fabric stores I visited.  I'm pleased with what I found, and it should work nicely.

I then turned my attention to my three different types of vinyl that I'm thinking of using for both the boot armor pieces and my gloves.  I'm not sure if this is the best method of madness in order to make this type of thing, but I'm going to give it a shot.  I have some hard plastic pieces that I'm using as a base of the armor, and I'm thinking of covering it and then painting the symbols onto it.  I'm just trying to figure out which vinyl holds my paint best.  Right now, I just have straight acrylic paint, and I'm not sure if I want to try out spray paint later or not.  We'll see how this goes.  I also got a great suggestion from my friend Kaylle, so I might look into the method she suggested but I need to learn more about it.

Right now, I have a mess scattered from the kitchen to my living room.  lol 
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
26 January 2012 @ 11:09 pm
So the Asajj costume is coming along quite nicely.  I've got the main part of my "battle dress" (as I'm calling it) done.  I pinned on one sleeve, and I still have another sleeve to pin on.  Both will need sewn in, but that's the easy part (sometimes).  I've learned that I hate sleeves.  I especially hate sleeves when you're drafting your own pattern because I never seem to make them just the right size so they fit inside the arm hole that I have in the garment.  So obnoxious!

Tonight, I sat down with some new Sculpey III.  I purchased some pewter colored Sculpey, and I'm working on the couple of broach-like pieces that are on Asajj's costume.  The first piece is the medallion up near the top of her neck.  I finished the round portion and the ornamentation that goes with it.  I'll work on the little "ribbon"esque piece that goes below it later.  Then will come that gigantic belt piece.  I'll have to figure that one out.

I also started working on some prototypes for the leg armor pieces that she has.  My original idea was to use some 2-liter bottle as "interfacing", to help give the armor some shape.  But no such luck as they ended up not being tall enough.  So I made a trip to the Dealz store (they took away my dollar tree and gave me this place...which isn't nearly as cool, but oh well), and I found 2 large (and tall) plastic containers for a buck apiece.  I cut one of them up and it seems to work perfectly!  Then I had the fun task of trying to figure out how I was going to replicate the design Asajj has on her boot armor.  I ended up pulling up a picture on my computer, enlarging the part of the image, cutting it out, and then virtually drawing the image using Paint.net.  I then copied and pasted the image in my word processing program, and basically rotated stuff, moved stuff, decreased stuff until I got the exact dimensions I was wanting!  I am so proud of it.  But I have no idea how I'll make it into a stencil yet or what I'll use to get it on the boot armor.  lol  Oh well.  Details.  ;-)  I also got out one of my aluminum signs that I had originally purchased for use on the Leia Ceremonial costume belt.  I started cutting this up for the metal accents on the boot armor, and it looks pretty nice, I think.  So I've got a prototype, but no paint, no covering, just...a dollar jug with some paper, aluminum and tape on it.  It rocks.  ;-)

I think that's where I currently am with the Asajj stuff.  Oh, but I did find some really awesome Star Wars fabric at Jo-Ann Fabrics!  It's so cute, and I love it!  I almost bought some fleece, too...but really.  How many projects do I need in life?  ...don't answer that.  ;p
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
17 January 2012 @ 11:20 pm
I started a new project!  I went with some old advice I received back when I couldn't get motivated and pick a project to work on - just start something.  So I started something.  lol  I've taken some pictures and some video, and I'm hoping to maybe get back into the old swing of things with posting progress and some entertaining (or not so entertaining) edits of video progress reports.  I really miss doing this.  They were fun.

I'd love to pull the details all together tonight and share them, but one corner of my living room is currently housing all of my costuming crap, and my camera is allllll the way over in that corner.  And I'm on the couch in the other corner.  And I'm comfy.  So I'm not moving. 

So you'll have to wait.  ;p
 
 
Lady Shada Ersari
07 January 2012 @ 05:05 pm

I sent the jumpsuit across state lines, and I got some notes back and some pictures on the fit and everything.  I want to get some additional information before I start playing with the pattern again.  But I also have the jumpsuit back with pins in the correct place in order to make the fit correct.  So now I went looking for fabrics.

I have six swatches I ordered from www.fabric.com.  I've never done swatch tests before, so this will be a new experiment.  I'm hoping that those will arrive early next week.  I also made another trip to JoAnn's to see if they had any new fabric choices.  Sure enough, they did!  I ended up falling in love with a 97% cotton/3% spandex bottom weight fabric from the Sew Classic collection in Calla Green (I think it's called).  I think it's the closest green for the images I've seen of the Tahiri jumpsuit, and it's my personal choice so far.  Granted, I haven't seen the swatches.  So I'm keeping an open mind.  ;)

In other news, I ran into some new Star Wars fabric while I was at JoAnn's!  Licensed flannel with a couple of very cute patterns.  I bought 2 cuts of it, 4 yards apiece.  I'll post pictures when I get the chance.