I received a Silhouette Portrait as a gift from my parents at Christmas this year, along with some accessories.  Here it is about a month later, and I’m finally getting around to unpacking it and starting to learn to use it!  I took the first steps last weekend, and theoretically even made a small amount of progress on my Liono cosplay for Megacon.

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In addition to the machine itself, I got a ratchet blade for it, a fabric cutting blade for it, a spare cutting mat, and some sketch pens, which can be used in place of a blade to draw custom designs with the machine.

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First thing was to install the software that came with my Silhouette, which is called Silhouette Studio.  This was easy enough, as was entering the code for the $10 Silhouette store cad that came in the box with the machine.  I found and purchased $10 worth of designs from the store easily, too.  Next, I thought I would sit down with the Silhouette Instruction Video DVD that came with it.

Boy, was I wrong on that one.  My laptop flat out refused to play it.  I spent a while trying to fix this, Googled solutions, tried downloading some other software that would let me view the files on he DVD, but to no avail.  I gave up, pretty frustrated, and just started trying to use the software instead.

I decided I would attempt to make the Thundercats logo, potentially for Liono’s belt when I get to that costume in a few weeks.  So I started trying to create this using ellipse tools and the freehand line tools.  Sure, I could make a red circle.  But my line drawing left a bit to be desired.  I tried plugging in my WACOM Bamboo and skteching with the pen instead of my mouse, but that actually seemed to make things worse.

IMG_0770Furthermore, I could not find a layering ability in this software.  I pulled up the manual and began reading a bit, and even though I did read mention of a layering tool in it, I still have yet to find it in the program.  Upon looking again just now, it says it is only available in the “Designer Edition Only”?  Anyway, I couldn’t erase any of the messy black lines above without also erasing the red circle.  Time to start over.

I read more of the manual.  Turns out I did not actually need to draw anything.  I could download an image from the internet and import it into my Silhouette file.  Once that was done, there was a tracing tool that could break up the image and draw the lines for me.  I did that and pulled the circle onto a separate file since they would be different colors of vinyl.  Then I went to work modifying the lines that the tracing tool made of the cat.

IMG_0771You can see that the tool actually made a double outline of the cat.  Since I didn’t want the Silhouette to cut out an outline of a cat, I had to remove one of the lines.  I did this using a combination of the eraser tool and the point editor.  Next it was up to the sewing room to cut vinyl with my Silhouette for the first time!

I did the red circle first.  I placed it on the sticky cutting mat that came with my Silhouette, and pressed the load mat button on the machine.  Then I sent the drawing to the Silhouette from a button inside the software, and off it went.

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I was not expecting the noises it made.  It sounded like an old school video game with all the different beeps, buzzes, and yerps it made.  When it was all done, I unloaded the vinyl, and peeled it off of the cutting mat.

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Peeling the vinyl off the mat leaves it a little bit curled up, but when I finally go to stick the vinyl down somewhere, I’m sure it will be fine (Note: I left the backing on the vinyl when I attached it to the mat for cutting).  Then I put down the next piece of vinyl and sent it to the Silhouette.  Here is what it looked like before I peeled it off the mat.

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For whatever reason, the matte vinyl didn’t cut as well as the shinier kind.  So I did a second cut after adjusting the blade to one higher number.  Here are what both of my pieces looked like after I was done cutting.

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I put some pattern weights down on them to try to flatten them out after I took this.  But ultimately, I was pretty happy with how this went.  There were some frustrating things about it at the beginning, but the tool has a lot of promise.  I haven’t tried the fabric blade yet, but I will do so soon, probably with the same design, as I am not certain how well vinyl will stick to fabric.  But I bet I can use some heat transfer stuff on some fabric.  :)

If you have a Silhouette, let me know if you have any tips or tricks that will help me out as I learn to use it!

 

 

Aside from finishing the skirt for Fluttershy last weekend, I also managed to finish the top hat accessory I’ll be wearing.  Trust me, I’m not certain that is a victory.

I started with McCall’s 6975 (View F), and some cut pieces of swirly yellow brocade, which I will also be using later on for my waist cincher.

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I’ll also be using this pattern soon for some fingerless gloves for this costume! :)  Just waiting on some stabilizer to arrive from Amazon so that I don’t tear the sheer glove fabric when I make the button holes.

Anyway, I discovered that sewing top hats with your sewing machine does NOT get easier the second time around.  In fact, based on this recent experience, I think the first time may have gone better, but maybe I’m just remembering it fondly because THIS hat experience was so frustrating?  I definitely remember top hats being more frustrating than the pilot captain’s hat I made for Rainbow Dash, though it was still not a walk in the park.

Some parts of the stitching were easy – such as sewing the brim pieces together.  Very relaxing to just leave your hand on the inner loop and guide the piece through it’s circular stitch path.

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Other parts, such as attaching the top of the hat to the cylindrical part, and then attaching the brim to the cylindrical part, were not easy.  I mean, you can barely see, much less sew (see below). And the hat was constantly hitting and getting stuck on the automatic needle threader pieces of my Brother, which I never use anyway – I had half a mind to break them off at the peak of my frustration.

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I used fusible craft weight interfacing for this hat – this first hat used heavy weight, I think – and it was a huge pain to sew and turn right side out, etc.  In fact, after I ironed it onto the fabric, the interfacing caused the hat pieces to bow and bend just from sitting there.  I wound up ironing them a second and third time to straighten out the pieces before I sewed them.

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Above you can see some of the obvious difficulty I had with the top of the hat attachment – it’s not exactly a pretty circle.  All said and done, I still wound up with something that resembles a hat at the finish line.  Never mind that weird crook in the brim (hidden in the picture below), we’ll just put it at the back of my head and press on with life.

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Does anyone have the SEKRITS to sewing hats without this much pain and agony?  Here are the few things I have learned:

1.  Fuck pinning.  OK, so this is my usual mantra unless I am doing Something Really Important.  But it is doubly important here, for several reasons.  First, pinning through thick interfacing is a bitch.  Second, you will stab yourself and yell obscenities.  And finally, you will remove the pins after you have done numbers 1 & 2, which were apparently a waste of time anyway.

2.  Squish the fabric any way you can.  It will come back later, your machine will make fewer horrible sounds, and the fabric will get caught on random shit less frequently.

3.  Sew in small amounts at a time.  Preferably at a slower speed so you don’t send your needle running headlong off the edge of your hat.  It is so hard to move and arrange / squish the hat pieces for some parts of this that it will be easier to start a line of stitching, stitch a little bit, and then stop and reinforce.  Then remove the hat from the machine, reposition it, and start a the line of stitching over again.

4.  No matter how tempting, do not throw your sewing machine down the stairs.  I seriously contemplated this, as well as opening the window and tossing it out onto the roof of the third story just to hear the satisfying crash on the driveway … but that could have damaged a car.  If you are really close to hurting your machine, it’s time to take a break and come back later.

I’m not sure how useful the advice above really is … but it has got to mean something that I had so many problems, and still wound up with a hat that looked passable right?

Once the sewing of the hat was complete, the real fun of decorating the hat begins!

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I used my trusty hot glue gun, some flowers in pink and blue, a glittery pink ribbon, a flower blue trim, a butterfly piece, and a hummingbird clip.  I also glued a clip to the underside of the hat brim to help it stay on my head with the wig I’ll be wearing.  The bird is maybe a bit of a stretch, but it’s the right color, and Fluttershy is all about animals so, it’s gonna stay, I think.

I even tried the hat on with my wig (which is in some need of styling, so don’t judge me yet).

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Kind of convenient I was wearing a yellow t-shirt for that photo hah.  I might go with one ponytail on the wig, but hard to say.  Also, black eyebrows make the look, don’t you think?  Thankfully I have my eyebrow pencil and eye shadow trick to color those more appropriately.

While I had this getup on my head, I took the parasol out and rested it on my shoulder, where I discovered two things:

1.  The parasol is a fairly different shade of yellow than my skirt, and I don’t know how I feel about that.  Actually, I’m pretty certain it bothers me.

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2.  Holding the parasol over my shoulder with the hat on is a logistical problem I did not foresee.  I will probably knock my hat and/or wig off my head like this.

So I’ve decided to use the parasol as a closed prop for carrying and posing.  I think I’ll tie a ribbon around it and maybe attach a butterfly to the bow.  Also, with the parasol closed, hopefully the glaring differences in yellow will be minimized.

Anyway – hat complete, despite the frustrations.  I love the swirly fabric, and I like how the decorations turned out, though a little part of me wishes you could see the bird better.  Maybe I will try to fix that.  Cheers!

 

After about 12 hours of work (according to the tracking I am doing with my Cosplanner app), I can finally say I am finished with the skirt for Fluttershy!  Sadly, that 12 hours stretches across more than a week since I have a day job that is super busy right now, and I am not all about giving up my sleep when I still have about 70ish days until the con.

Here is the skirt in all of its ruffle-y glory!  The pink sheer fabric is not quite the way I imagined it working in my costume design a year ago, but honestly, I only bought a yard of fabric, and wouldn’t have had enough to bring it around the front of the skirt more.

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I’m contemplating adding some small pink butterflies to the pink train piece, but we’ll see what I decide.  Right now the butterflies are for the parasol, so it depends on what I have left.  I like how the bias tape turned out on the edges of the ruffles, and it seems like with multiple layers, the sheer nature of the yellow fabric won’t matter much.

I did decide to modify the closure on the skirt (which started with pattern McCall’s 6999).  The skirt was too big initially, and once I started attaching ruffles, I knew it would be hard to take in.  So rather than deal with that, I eliminated the front and back yoke and lengthened the waistband to attach to the skirt as at the top.  Then I attached the sheer pink train, and turned over the waistband to make a casing for the elastic.  With elastic, the slight bit of extra fabric that made the skirt too big was easily fixed and just added more gathering.

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Above I placed three butterflies I am going to use for Fluttershy’s cutie mark – I have hot glued pin backs to the back of the butterflies..  Their bodies are not periwinkle … but I think I can get over that part.  Let me know if you have ideas on how to make them periwinkle.

Next up in terms of sewing are a couple of accessories – gloves and hat.  Then I need to figure out what I am doing for the top of this costume.  I also have the waist cincher to do, but I am procrastinating on starting that.  Heck, I might even get to patterning and sewing my Angel prop before I do the waist cincher – that is how much I hate grommets … Cheers till next time!

 

Koo-koo-kachoo!

Despite having done some sewing each night this week, the skirt for Fluttershy is taking longer than I thought. So I don’t have much of an update for you today.

Behold the skirt as it stands now!

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The third ruffle is ready to attach to the skirt, and the fourth one is pinned to the bias tape for stitching.

I have decided to forgo the zipper and just use elastic for he waistband, so some modification will be happening when I get there.

I can only imagine how long this would have taken if I were hand gathering instead of serge gathering!

Stay tuned for more next week!

 

So far, I have not completed very much for my Fluttershy costume.  The choker is the only thing I have made that is done.  But over the weekend, I did finally get started sewing something!  Which is good because I am quite tired of cutting fabric for a while.  I found that after cutting out the skirt and gloves, I should have plenty of the pretty yellow flowery knit fabric to use it for the top of the costume too – glad I don’t have to buy any more fabric.

I feel like this project involved a lot of gathering of materials.  But now I feel ready to rock and roll – I can get started on the gloves, the hat, the skirt, the waist cincher … really anything but the top.  Oh and I haven’t started the process for my Angel bunny prop, though I did decide she is going to be the sneaky way for me to carry my phone and IDs/moneys, etc.

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One of the tables in my craft room is collecting all the stuff for this costume – my corset pieces, the trims and butterfly accessories I plan to use, the hat decorations, the underskirt fabric, the bias tape.  I will also need most of the items on this table below – I bought my lacy yellow parasol, and some things to accessorize it with, but I am debating how I want to go about it, since the parasol has to sit closed from time to time.  Do I put the butterflies on fishing wire and dangle them from the parasol?  I like the idea, but then I risk tangling the fishing wire while the parasol is closed.  I could glue the butterflies onto the bottom edge, but feel like it might get crowded when closed.  I have headbands and Sculpey clay leftover from Rainbow Dash, so I’ll make my own ears again.  I also have leftover corset supplies, but I will need to order some caps for the spiral steel.

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The Transformers fabric is not for this project, but my husband will be getting a nice fun pair of geeky pajama pants once I get around to cutting them.

Anyway, onto the skirt.  I’m using McCall’s 6999 as the base pattern for this, though I might modify it some.

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It was easy enough to get started on the skirt by stitching the center back pieces together, and then attaching the back of the skirt to the front at the side seams.  But after that, the meat of the work begins.  There are five ruffles on this skirt.  I had to cut three pieces of fabric for each ruffle, and the pattern has you start with the bottom one.  So I stitched the three ruffle pieces together at the sides.  To give you some idea of how long the unruffled ruffle was, I took this photo, with my foot in it for scale.

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Kind of ridiculous, no?  The pattern wants you to narrow hem the ruffle edge at this point, but I decided I wanted to put some periwinkle bias tape on the edges to tie in some of that accent color. I’m sure it will ultimately look very nice, but let me tell you about how much I am regretting this decision in a single word: PINNING.  so.  much.  pinning.  And in case you were wondering exactly how much bias tape I used on this ginormous ruffle?  An entire package.  Minus maybe 6 inches or so.  I might wind up needing to buy more O.o

IMG_0747After all the horrible pinning was done, I stitched the bias tape on.  I love how pretty this fabric is, and how nice it coordinates with the periwinkle color.

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Next up, gathering.  I learned back in December while making ugly Christmas sweaters exactly how amazing it is to have a serger when you want to gather stuff.  So I set my two needle threads of my serger to a tension of 5, and left the other threads at 4, and did a quick test strip of the fabric through the machine.  So awesome!  Then I gathered the real ruffle.  The pattern instructions informed me that I was only supposed to gather in between the seams of the ruffle, but I think that maters more when you are trying to gather by hand.  I ignored those instructions.  I wasn’t convinced that my machine was gathering the fabric up enough, so I increased the tension even more on the left threads, up to 6.  Here is what the ruffle looked like after the gathering.

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Probably gathered a bit too much, but the beauty of gathering this way is that it is pretty easy to loosen the gathers as well.  Which I had to do for the next step, pinning it onto the skirt base.

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And that is about where I am at this point.  With four more ruffles to go.  I haven’t decided how I am going to do the waistband of this skirt.  It has a facing and a zipper in the pattern but with this sheer fabric, I do not want to put interfacing on the facing pieces, since it will turn the background of the fabric white.  I might wind up forgoing the zipper, and just throwing on an elastic waistband, since it will be under the corset anyway.

So excited for this one to come together!  I can’t work fast enough for the imaginings in my brain :)  More on this project soon!

 

I mentioned that I began work on a necklace for my Fluttershy cosplay last week while traveling for work.  The necklace work continued this week, and I also finished even more cutting of fabric for this costume as well.  Figured I would take you through my process for creating the necklace step-by-step in case you wanted to make your own.  Overall, it took me about 7 hours to finish this accessory; but I was slightly distracted watching some anime through most of it :)  Anyway, here we go!

Things You’ll Need

-Beads

-Wire (I used Beadalon 49 strand .024 in wire)

-Crimping beads

-Jewelry pliers

-Crimper tool

-Wire cutter (or scissors, but the wire cutter works better)

-Clasps

-Jewelry planning board (optional)

 

1.  Draw out your necklace design.  If you don’t already have your beads picked out for the necklace, during design seems the right time to do so.  This necklace incorporated nine different types of beads, almost all of them the Swarovski crystal type, like this.  I did not buy that particular set, I bought specific colors I needed (although I also had some of these beads leftover from a previous project).  Fluttershy’s cutie mark is a pink butterfly with a periwinkle body.  I used periwinkle as the main color for this necklace as there will be the least amount of this color in my costume – it’s really just an accent color.  And since my hair will be pink, I wanted a little less pink involved on the necklace.

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2.  Measure your neck.  For a choker you want it to fit pretty tightly, so don’t add too much give to the measurement (though when you cut wire you will want to add some extra length).  Cut wire about 2″ longer than your measurement for the main two pieces of your choker.

3.  Plan out your pieces.  Anywhere you have lines connecting on your design drawing indicates that you will need multiple pieces of wire.  For example, the butterfly piece for this necklace requires 5 separate wire pieces.  And each teardrop piece is its own wire.

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4.  Make repeated pieces all at once.  Begin each wire piece by sliding a crimp bead onto the wire, and then bending the end of the wire back through the crimp bead a second time.  Pull the crimp bead towards the end of the wire, which helps the wire loop formed by the crimp bead to get smaller.  Make sure the loop isn’t too small that the main wire can’t fit through it!  Below are some example pieces.

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5.  Plan out the bead patterns for your main pieces.  You may lay them out on a table, or optionally use a bead design tray here.  You may want to lay out more beads than you think you will need to fill the wire pieces.  For this particular jewelry piece, I also had to be careful that the top and bottom main wires had similar numbers of beads between the vertical pieces with the square glass beads.

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6. Build your main pieces.  I started with the top piece because it required fewer connecting pieces.  You may have to remove your beads from the wire once or twice if you don’t have enough to fill the length of wire.  It’s also good to check size around your neck when you think you are done.  When you get to the end and are about to add the ending crimp bead and loop, make sure to put the clasp piece on the loop before crimping it.  Here is what the top wire looked like when finished.

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7.  When both pieces are done and have clasps, celebrate!

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And of course, try on your creation.

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I’m very happy with how this turned out.  I did discover when I tried it on that I had put two of the same type of twisty clasp on the bottom wire.  Ooops.  I can redo that last bit later.  Can’t wait to see what this looks like as I finish more of my Fluttershy costume!  Hopefully more on that next week!

 

Though we received several board games during the Christmas holidays and you’ll surely see a few of them reviewed here, the one I’m about to review for you today was not one of them.  In fact, we haven’t really played this style of board game in a while, though we have several similar ones.  My husband had the urge for a campaign style RPG-like game, and found a Star Wars themed one.  It is set immediately after the original Star Wars movie, Episode 4: A New Hope.

High school aged me would have LOVED this game.  I did enjoy it a lot and am glad we picked it up, but I would have been all over this a decade and a half ago (ugh, feeling old …).

If you have ever played Dungeons and Dragons, or a lite board game version of D&D, such as Descent, this game was very similar.

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The box is pretty neat.  Now here is a look at all the stuff that came inside the box (though the way the box was packed was a bummer – essentially just a box with some baggies for different things, nothing spent on organization).  It doesn’t look too bad here, but there are quite a lot of pieces.

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There are 11 missions in a campaign of this game.  Five players can play, with one person playing the Imperials / GM role.  The GM reads the missions and sets up the board and the scenarios. Each mission has a max number of rounds, and particular objectives for the Rebellion players to meet.  If the Rebels meet the objectives within the time limit, they win the mission.  If not, the Imperials win the mission.  There is an additional loss case for the Rebels if all the characters become wounded during the mission.  In either case, both sides get experience and some amount of currency that allows them to “level up” slowly over the course of the campaign.

Each player gets to pick which character they are going to play.  You can choose from about 8, I think.  Our group wound up with a commander (Gideon Argus, coolest name EVER!), a Jedi, a Wookie, and a Bothan.  The commander and the Bothan had ranged weapons, and the Wookie and Jedi were melee fighters.  Each character had one piece of starting equipment, such as a pistol or a staff.  I chose to play the Twi’lek Jedi.  In addition to her staff, she had two special abilities she could use on her turn if I paid some of her endurance.

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Once the map is put together and the objective explained, the Rebellion’s start point is placed on the board, as well as any starting Imperial characters.  The Rebels get to go first, but play alternates as it continues.  This means after one Rebel character goes, one of the Imperial player’s characters go.  On each turn, players can perform two actions – Move, Attack, Interact, Rest, Use Special.  You can do any of the actions twice as well, assuming you have the resources.  Below is a shot of what the first mission we played looked like at the start.  Our objectives were to destroy the four panels, represented by the three pronged cardboard bits.

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The meat of the game is in attacking the opposite side, and performing actions to complete missions.  When you attack, you specify which other character you are attacking, and you roll the appropriate dice based on your weapon card (in my Jedi’s case above, every attack meant she rolled a green die and a yellow die.).  The character you are attacking gets to roll a defense die (either black or white depending on what their character card says). You resolve the symbols on the dice, and damage is distributed appropriately.  In the picture below, a character rolled a blue and yellow die.  The burst symbols represent damage, the number represents weapon range (if applicable) and the lightning represents a surge.  The surge can be used to do a number of different effects, depending on your equipment and abilities, including more damage.  So the attacker did a total of 3 damage if we just count the surge as plus 1 (I don’t remember what the abilities were for the person using the dice in the picture).  On the black die, the triangle symbols indicate how much damage was blocked, in this case 1.  So the resolution of this attack is that the defending Imperial target took 2 damage.

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There is a little more to combat, such as line of sight rules and range.  Movement is important to battle, and other characters can get in your way.  But if you are interested in playing the game, you’ll have to read up on all that – this review is just a general synopsis.

For the player moving the Imperials, the game seems pretty fun too.  They get to level up and do things to try to win from their perspective.  For instance, they have a threat counter each mission that goes up by a certain amount each round.  They can spend threat to redeploy more troops (in certain spawn points on the board known only to them).  And over the course of the campaign, they will gain XP and abilities and other ways to buff characters.  In the shot below, during the status phase between rounds, the blast door closed leaving one team member outside.  And my husband spawned an Imperial gunner outside with him.  Ruh-roh!

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After we completed each mission, we received some amount of credits, which we could spend on items to improve our characters, and 1 XP.  Apparently the XP grind in this game is going to be very slow … Since it was our first day of the campaign, there was a lot more setup time than there will be going forward.  We got through 2 missions this weekend, but I suspect next time we might be able to get through 3 in one sitting.

One of the things I liked about it is that the missions are branched rather than linear.  When we complete one mission, we get to choose between three missions what our next one will be.  And if the Imperials win instead of us, that can affect which mission comes next in the campaign progression as well.

Overall, it felt very balanced.   The two missions we played had 6 rounds each.  We won the first with maybe 1 round to spare, but the second mission was tough.  We won on the last round, with one character having a turn left.  I honestly thought my husband’s Imperials were going to take that one.

One mechanic that bugged me was that if you choose a Rest action for your character, you recover an amount equal to your Endurance stat, first of Endurance, and THEN of health.  So to really make your rest useful, you are forced to use two actions to recover health.  That assumes you use your character’s special abilities, but we found most of them to be very useful.  There is a way when you roll the dice to recover endurance using unspent surge points, but I’m not convinced that this will make too much difference, as surges are too useful for other weapon effects like stuns, bleeds, cleaves, etc.

You can’t die per se, but on each mission your character gets two chances.  After you lose your health completely once, you become wounded.  You flip your character card to the other side, and if you lose all your health again, you are essentially knocked out for the rest of the mission (but can come back at the next part of the campaign).  We had one character get wounded, and others come close, but weren’t in danger of losing the mission this way.  Our biggest struggle seemed to be time.  And also poor rolls when trying to blast down a door.

One mechanic that bothered Jesse as the Imperials was that in the second mission, he had two Imperial guards on the last round trying to protect something we were supposed to destroy.  He moved them up to a doorway on their turns, and during our team’s turns we just moved through and around them (you can move past a space with an enemy character on it for 1 move penalty as long as you don’t land on the space they are in) and ignored them to destroy the archives we needed to finish the mission.  In many games like this, there is a moment of opportunity gained when characters move into or out of a space containing an enemy character.  We didn’t see one in the rules for this game, but if we missed it, that would change how we continue to play in the future.

There is a whole other mode to this game, called Skirmish Mode, that we did not even delve into at all, so you’ll have to go elsewhere for feedback on that part of this game :)  This is a game I like to put in the category of “dungeon crawler”, and if you like that type of game (or if you enjoy D&D or MMO games like WOW), you’ll enjoy this.  I don’t feel like it added anything new to the genre, but it was nice to play in the Star Wars universe.  It keeps it simple enough that I don’t think we’ll get lost in rules debates every time, and it feels balanced and hard enough that we will probably lose a mission every now and then as the Rebels.

If I had to give this game a score out of 5, like I try to do every time I give a game a review, I think Star Wars Imperial Assault would earn a 4 from me.  A part of me wants to give it a 5 just because it is Star Wars themed, but if I am comparing this to all other board games I play, I just don’t enjoy the dungeon crawler type as much as I enjoy, say tile or worker placement games.  But make no mistake, this game is super fun and easily in my top two dungeon crawlers – it probably even edges out Descent, due to the theme.  Star Wars fans everywhere rejoice!

 

First week back to work in the New Year.  Also first week back to sewing and costuming, so naturally a lot of mental attention is currently being spent on that, too.  Except that I wound up on a work trip this week.  With lots to do even in the evenings.

But even with all that, I decided to bring along some small bits of my costume projects that I could work on quickly and on the road.

For instance, last night I designed a choker necklace for my Fluttershy costume, and I brought beads and wire with me so that I could sit and start working on it while I watched TV before bed.  I didn’t get super far into the beadwork as I ran out of beads, but I did finish a few key pieces of the necklace that will wind up getting worked into the finished product before all is said and done. Here is what I have so far:

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The above butterfly piece will be front and center on the choker, and the little cone shaped crystals will be some light dangles around the bottom edges.  Here is the design I sketched on some high quality hotel bedside paper.  Top is the goal for general shape around my neck, bottom is a more close up design of how I want pieces laid out.

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I also ordered more beads and wire and crimp beads.  I’m pretty happy that the color of many of the leftover pale blue / periwinkle beads from the ice fairy costume jewelry match the accent color on Fluttershy’s cutie mark, so I can use them as I see fit in my necklace.

I also brought the skirt pattern that I intend to use for Fluttershy so that I could cut out the pieces I need, and if I get far enough, the fabric came with me too for cutting.

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The top of this costume will likely be patterned by me, but I am not going to reinvent the wheel on a ruffle skirt when I can get a pattern for $1-$2.  I might decide to leave off the bottom (5th) layer.  I bought a very pretty knit fabric that is partially sheer.  It was on sale for $5 a yard at Jo Ann’s, which seems pretty good to me.  Not sure yet if I will layer some satin or something beneath the sheer knit, but I think with multiple ruffle layers, it might be okay, and knits are just so much more comfortable than wovens.  Isn’t it pretty?  I’m not as good at researching and choosing the perfect fabric for my costumes as my friend Meris over at The Fabric Alchemist, but a lot of the time when I see the fabric that is perfect for my vision, I just KNOW.  I couldn’t have told you about that fabric beforehand, but once I have laid eyes on it …

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I should have enough fabric left after cutting the skirt to cut two fingerless gloves from this same material.  I didn’t take a picture of that pattern – sorry – but it also included a mini top hat pattern that I am making for this costume.  Pardon the cardboard in the photo below, I was protecting my table from the fray check.

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I’ll be using the same fabric for this top hat and the waist cincher that is coming down the road.  I cut it those pieces last week, so they are home waiting on me.  I love this swirly pattern brocade – I think in the Rainbow Dash waist cincher, the purple I used had this same design.  I didn’t really love the yellow I used on that one, so I was SUPER happy to find this.  And it was during the holiday sale time frame so I got a nice deal on it too.

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Also, over on Kelldar’s blog, I read about an app called Cosplanner earlier this week.  So I decided to download that and try to use it this year to track each costume’s expenses and progress, etc. Seems pretty nifty so far, here are some screenshots of it.  Main page allows you to add multiple cosplays to your list, and add reference photos to them.

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And then if you go into each cosplay, you can add items you need to buy or make.  You can track costs on the bought items and how much time / % complete the costume is for the made items. This is way better than just taking notes for all this stuff on my phone, and since I’ve wanted to track this stuff for a while, this is just perfect.  I’m probably late to this party honestly, but better late than never!

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It’s not a lot of progress for the first week, but it’s better than nothing!  Especially when I’m trying to squeeze two costume builds into 3.5 months this time … but it does feel good to be working on a costume again :)

 

Happy 2015!  During the last two months of the year while I was doing much less crafting, sewing, and blogging, my mind did it’s usual recharge-and-toss-ideas around thing.  So I have already got quite a few things planned for this year!

I’m planning to attend both Megacon and DragonCon in 2015, so two major conventions at which I will cosplay.  Megacon was moved into April this year, so in this first 3.5 months, I’m going to be attempting to make two costumes.

1.  Fluttershy (with Victorian influences)

I thought out this costume last year (along with costumes for all the main MLPFIM characters), and then wound up making the Rainbow Dash costume first.  It was such a good experience that I decided I’ll make the Fluttershy one a reality this time.  I scored some cheap patterns that will help with the ruffled skirt part and some gloves and a top hat.  I already have the fabric for the waist cincher (and the pattern I made last year).  I am still trying to find the right fabric for the skirt / dress however … I want something light, like a linen or a seersucker.  But I’m also toying with the idea of a different yellow print for each tier of the skirt.  Thinking knee high socks and some mary jane shoes, but haven’t found that perfect pair yet in either a pink or a yellow.  I see the Steampunk / Victorian influence in this costume, but hesitate to call it that.

Fluttershy

2.  Liono from Thundercats

This would be a gender bent version, as Liono is a male character.  For those who aren’t familiar, it’s called crossplay when you dress as a character of the opposite sex, and gender bending when you take a character of the opposite sex and make changes to suit the gender you want to cosplay (similar to what I did with Hades).  I loved Thundercats growing up, so I would be modifying the standard Liono leotard look into something a little more feminine, maybe adding a bit of a skirt.  I have designs on making the sword of omens as well, and a glove.  I sure hope I can find some prescription cat eye contacts, and the wig styling should be pretty fun for this, though I can’t decide if I should keep it kind of feminine or try to style the wig a bit like Liono.  Challenges includes spandex, lycra, and being okay showing some stomach.  Yikes!  I am hoping to use foam for the glove, and I received a dremel as a Christmas gift, so it should be neat to play with that a bit.

Liono

I have a list of other potential costumes for the year, some more set in stone than others:

1.  Disco Mario Party – planned for DragonCon 2015, a group cosplay.  I’ll be Princess Peach, husband has agreed to be Luigi, and a friend has agreed to be Mario.  The 70s, shiny overall jumpsuits (fireball versions so they can each wear red and green rather than blue overalls, with white shirts), and I’m doing my best to find a light pink paisley fabric for the base of my dress.  Oh, and there will be some bobomb props… Below are some general ideas I am toying around with.

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2.  Darkwing Duck – A favorite from the Disney afternoon cartoons while I was growing up.  And I’ve seen a couple of really cute takes on this, like the one below.

DarkwingThat coat looks suspiciously like a modification to Simplicity 2172.  I wouldn’t be heartbroken to make this again …

3.  Disney Princess (Transformation Elsa?  Belle?)

Like so much of the world, I also love the movie Frozen.  I’m actually more of a fan of Anna than I am of Elsa, but I do enjoy the transformation “Let it Go” scene.  If I do an Elsa cosplay, it will be during that transformation rather than in the icy ballgown everybody makes.

However, you all know I’m not very fond of making super popular cosplay characters.  So Elsa might be too popular for me right now.  I’ve always identified most with Belle as a Disney Princess, maybe it’s the introverted book reading … I’d like to come up with a unique take on her blue and white town dress.  Maybe a vintage bombshell version?  Perhaps done in shades of gray as if the movie were in black and white?  What do you think?

Belle

4.  Doctor Who something – TARDIS?

Been into Doctor Who lately, but not sure what I would enjoy cosplaying from it.  Maybe the TARDIS?  I’ve seen a few cute takes, steampunk / Victorian style.  Also, I love this girl’s bobbie socks & poodle skirt version, complete with K-9.  Squee!

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5.  Once Upon a Time – Regina?  Snow?

I have a thing for Regina’s long coats and elaborate dresses.  I also have a pattern for one of them, and for Snow’s white outfit.  I’m just not sure I’ve found THE Once Upon a Time costume that I just have to do yet.  If I had to pick a favorite, I think I like this blue gown of Regina’s.  I would hate making that collar …

Regina

6.  Erza – Lightning Armor?

I have yet to do a cosplay from an anime.  I enjoy anime, but I suspect I will never be REALLY SUPER into it.  Regardless, Fairy Tail is one of the recent ones I have enjoyed, and particularly Erza’s character and fantastic armor costumes.  I’ve seen a couple of amazing cosplays of her fancier armors, but if I were to cosplay her, I think I would go with her Lightning Armor.  It would be a good opportunity to work with thermoplastics again, but have to tie the pieces into sewing a bit more.

Erza

Well that is the end of my costume planning musings for the moment.  As you know, I will wind up making a few of these, and others will just get left on my list-of-things-I-might-like-to-actually-make-someday.  Any cosplays you’d like to see me add to my list?  Any votes for ones in this list I should do?  Let me know!

 

Well, here we are at the end of another great year!  At the beginning of the year, I set a few goals for myself and this blog.  Here they are:

1.  Increase blog traffic.  Definitely succeeded here as you’ll see below – I have doubled views each year.

2.  Improve use of social media.  I’m still not wonderful at this, but ANY social media use seems better than none, right?

3.  More costuming and cosplay.  I made 8 costumes this year, compared to 2 or 3 the year before.  Check!

4.  More variety.  There is a nice smattering of travel posts, other crafts, and board game reviews thrown in this year.  I also gained some viewers from Boardgamegeek.com.

5.  Better design.  I did a little bit of this at the beginning of last year, but realistically I haven’t changed the blog much.  I guess if there was any goal I was okay failing on, it’s this one.

Rather than bore you with a long discussion of how I met or failed to meet my goals, I made an infographic that seems to summarize the year nicely.  The short story here is that the blog has doubled in size, and I continue to discover what type of content I enjoy writing.  But this blog began as a way to document my projects and interests, and I feel like at its core, this is still true.

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One final thing.  I did decide to employ Google Adsense on this site this year.  While entertaining to watch, I will never be able to quit my day job based on ad revenue here unless traffic doubles many, many more times … suffice it to say, my husband and I will go enjoy lunch at Moe’s with my earnings for the year.  LOL

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope 2014 was a pleasant year, and that 2015 is even more fruitful for you!