Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Phedre no Delaunay cosplay

This January, I was a guest at illogicon, a small but fun con in Raleigh, NC that is my yearly “convention season kick off”. This year’s con was especially exciting because the author Guest of Honor was Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel’s Legacy, The Sundering, Agent of Hel), and I knew that I just had to do a Phedre no Delaunay costume. Her “Mara” dress from “Kushiel’s Chosen” is one of her most famous and immediately recognizable, so I decided to do that one.

Plus, I look great in red.

My partner Matt had to be coaxed/coerced into doing Joscelin, as he had never read the series. He ended up diving into it for the costume, and is now halfway through the first book.

I did a fair bit of research for this costume, and the two sources I drew from most heavily were this image by the amazing Zeldyn, who is, in my opinion, one of the finest Kushiel artists out there. You can follow her on Facebook, Tumblr, or Deviantart.


and Favrielle Atelier’s lovely blog:

Joscelin was a bit tricker, as there isn’t even cover art of him, and so we ended up with fanart, and a few descriptions we found of Joscelin’s attire in the book. Our two guiding images were another piece by Zeldyn, and a lovely sketch by Angela Sasser, another extremely talented artist with a penchant for gorgeous Kushiel Legacy fanart.

Matt also modified the design a bit based on his personal preferences.

The Dress:

I should confess that I’m still quite new to sewing and working with cloth - up until recently, I would shamelessly safety pin cloth bits together to make costume pieces, and resort to crude hand stitching only when absolutely necessary. Matt is even worse (or better), preferring to use rivets in lieu of stitches. So these costumes were no small challenge!

Fortunately for me, I had a secret weapon: my very own Favrielle (whose real name is Lacey). That’s right, I know a snarky redhead seamstress (no facial scarring, though). And true to the books, I pestered her a few weeks before the event to help me make the dress. It took an entire day (quite literally, we were together for 24 hours). I found a nice scarlet stretch satin at Joann’s, which was somewhat of a pain to sew. I highly recommend getting very fine pins and needles for working with it, to avoid runs.

We used a Butterick bridal pattern, B5779, which is a gown with a dramatic lace back and nice train. 

Lacey left out the lace, and modified the cut of the back, as well as the neckline, and added some fancy sleeves. I did my part by standing still so she could pattern the neck and collar, and doing the more minor sewing tasks (hemming, seaming, serging things badly, ironing). Lacey, who hadn’t read the series, was appalled by how plain the dress was, and kept pointing out different things we could do to decorate it. I gently discouraged her in the name of accuracy. She was somewhat mollified when we added the long sleeves and she saw how impressive it looked from the back. Frankly, without her, there would be no dress, and I probably would have gone as close to naked as possible rather than butcher a dress pattern on my own (helloooo, longest night gauze thing.)

In order to make sure the dress (mostly) stayed in place, we used double sided fashion tape (available at Joann's, or David's Bridal) to stick it to my back. The tape worked well, holding up for almost 12 hours before it started losing its grip.

Favrielle is available for commissions, although she has (understandably) stated that she is not comfortable making this dress for someone she can't fit in person.

The Tattoo:

My sister, Artifex Alyssum, handles all my body painting needs (like Darth Talon), so this tattoo was a walk in the park for her. She freehanded the entire thing in the morning, outlining it in yellow first, then going over the lines in black and red. What was her medium of choice, you might ask? SHARPIES. Freakin' Sharpies. It sounds terrible, but we've actually used it before for other tattoo projects -- Sharpies contain a very very similar ink to what we use for dying leather, and it's great for doing a temporary tattoo. To make sure it stayed in place, she sprayed my back down with hairspray. It worked great, and despite people occasionally touching my back, it didn't smudge at all! At the end of the day, she dabbed some olive oil on a paper towel and wiped the whole thing off in a few minutes.

Alyssa's suggestion for doing the tattoo: "Don't be afraid to alter the proportions of the tattoo so it will look good on the person's body. Definitely make sure to seal the whole thing."
Photo by Selfie Murphy

Also, I got Jacqueline to sign it.

bringing my total count of author signatures on my body to: 2! (Pat Rothfuss being the first)

I like the trend...

Joscelin’s outfit:

Matt largely did this on his own, with much muttering about the mysterious nature of sewing machines. He used Simplicity Pattern 4059 to make the tunic, with a rather nice silver-gray curtain I had found at Goodwill. I helped add some trim, as well as the leather pieces on the front, and then he added the leather shoulder flanges (which, you will notice, is where he ran out of patience for sewing and just riveted them to the cloth). The shirt was another Goodwill find, and the pants, gloves, sword, daggers, and boots he had already.

Our friend Shaun Mendes of Chained Elegance sent him the pieces of chainmail for the gloves. Matt made an original pattern for the bracers, then made them with black latigo leather and sheet metal, which he bent into shape and buffed with steel wool. The sword harness was created entirely from scratch, using undyed veg-tan leather that was embossed with a floral scroll print, then dyed, oiled, and sealed. For a double dose of geek, the sword harness pattern is basically identical to Link’s harness:

Which may have something to do with the fact that Matt made both things back to back. For

The finished costumes in action!

 Photographer: Ripptowne Photography 

Photographer: Photosnxs

Photograhper: Chris Burnside.


Shaun surprised me with a dress of his own! And naturally, we had to see how the two would work together...

Photographer: Photosnxs
Freakin gorgeous, that's how. I might have to wear those two together from now on. My friend Chris made the excellent point "Visually, this kind of combines Phedre's two most significant longest night costumes. The chain mail kind of calls to mind the sheer diamond covered dress."

So what's next for these costumes? Hopefully, some very sexy photoshoots! Cons are great, but it's tough to get that intimate assignation vibe out of the background. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mission: Secure Leather Jacket for Matt's 30th Birthday

Here's the jacket in question: Mass Effect Commander Shepard Jacket

Here's the (apparently way less nice, according to Mr. Matt) knockoff: Mass Effect Slim Fit N7 Jacket


Q: Why a leather jacket?
A: Matt really likes leather. According to an old friend, this has apparently been a thing for most of his life.

Q: Can't he just make it?
A: Matt really can't sew. (And I'm not about to waste several hundred dollars of Italian Lambskin by applying my amateur talents to this project)

Q: Why Mass Effect?
A: If you haven't yet realized the extent of Matt's Mass Effect worship, I can only assume it's because he hasn't cornered you and given you his speech about everything he loves about Mass Effect and why the ending was so brutal, followed by some form of how he would have done things differently.

Q: Why not just buy the cheaper knockoff jacket?
A: That's what I'm going to do if we don't raise enough. I think the knockoff jacket looks nice, but Matt took one look at it and promptly rattled off five reasons why it wasn't as nice as the original. He likes it, but he reeeeaaaally wants the original.

Q: Wait, how is this going to be a surprise if Matt's seen both of these jackets to pass judgement?
A: Ahaha! That's the beauty of it, he's beating himself up for not buying the jacket when it was a mere $500 or whatever from the Bioware store. Therefore he will not see this coming :D

Monday, February 3, 2014

Worldbuilders 2014

1. No minimum donation.
2. Every donation = 1 entry.
3. If you win, I'll ask you to send me a screenshot of your confirmation email or completed donation page.
4. You can redeem your win now for a print I have currently - or hold on to it for a later print!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Costumer Woes: Making a Costume for Which There Is No Canonical Reference Picture

When I'm trying to visualize a costume described in a book: 

When none of my internet searches turn up anything useful:

When I realize I'm going to have to come up with a design myself:

For costumers like me, who suck at all things sewing and fabric might relate to the next two gifs as well. Everyone else, proceed to the last two gifs!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Welcome to my new Kickstarter project: Allegra Wants to Eat Fancy Food!

Hey guys! You know how like, I really like to eat? And I'm a huuuuuge foodie? Well, here's a chance for you to help me realize my ambition of eating at a super nice restaurant! As you know, good food is expensive. So I'm doing a kickstarter to raise money so I can treat myself to a fantastic meal!

What's in it for you: All of these EXCITING INCENTIVES!
Also since I'll be eating expensive fancy food instead of like, ramen and mac and cheese, so you're helping me get into shape for skimpy cosplays! Teehee!

*ahem* for example
Pledge $1
You decrease the odds I will hunt you down and mug you for money.

Pledge $5
I will acknowledge you in public.

Pledge $10
Your existence will be validated because I will mention you BY NAME on Facebook.

Pledge $25
I will text you a photo of what I'm eating.

Pledge $50
You can give Pikachu-bookbag a bath.

Note: if Pikachu-bookbag is already sufficiently clean I have other Pikachus

Pledge $100
Not only will you receive all of the previous incentives, I will let YOU pick which drink I order!

Pledge $200
You can accompany me and watch me eat. We can split an appetizer.

Why you should back this project:
Because I really like good food!

Yeah but don't a lot of people...

But Allegra! If you're really hungry and you want to eat, why don't you just buy good food in a price range you can afford?


What do you think I am, some kind of peasant??

Look at this shiny headdress.

You see that? I AM A PRINCESS.

Anyway this entitles me to nice things without having to do much work for them.  I MEAN, LOOK AT EVERYTHING I'M DOING FOR THIS KICKSTARTER!

Stretch goals!

Raise $600
I will make a video of myself eating sensuously, unless it's like, lettuce, or a really big piece of sushi.

Raise $2000
I will take pictures of myself naked adorned only with sushi. Sushi pieces used for this shoot will be mailed to the highest backers, which they can consume at their own risk.

Like this but with no soft glow effects.
Raise $1,000,000
I will buy my own sushi restaurant so I can have sushi whenever I want while wearing my favorite costumes. Anyone who donates can totally come hang out at the restaurant (costumes not required)

So thanks for checking out my Kickstarter and I hope you'll donate! Yaaay!

PS this was intended as a humorous piece inspired by recent events but in the time it took to write this I realized I am really hungry and all the sushi pictures I looked up aren't helping and suddenly this really seems like a great idea halp.

PPS nvm made a sandwich, I'm better now

Monday, March 11, 2013

Crash Course in Bodypaint

Every now and then, you come across a character you’d love to cosplay – except she’s got bright green skin. Or flaming scarlet. Or jet black.

or two out of three!
The point is, it’s not even close to a natural flesh tone from anywhere on this planet. You could don a spandex bodysuit, but for the most realistic appearance, I've come to rely on body paint. While it’s definitely a very involved and time consuming process, I think the results are well worth it! Hopefully this little guide will break things down.

Be warned, there are pics of naked people in paint.

Monday, January 21, 2013

4k fans giveaway raffle!

Thanks for getting me up over 4k fans! As promised, we're doing a sweeeeet raffle where you can win some swanky art of mine. 

Here are DA RULES.

1) This is for fans of my facebook page only! When you enter, you must use the name on the facebook account you liked my page with.  

2) actually I think that's pretty much the only rule.... don't hate me if you don't win! the winners will be chosen completely randomly. I'm sure I'll find an excuse to have another raffle later :)

So that's it! I'm very flattered there are, frankly, any people who enjoy my work, let alone over four thousand of you. It's a huge motivation to keep improving and challenging myself, and I always appreciate the suggestions and feedback that folks give me.