Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Caterina...up until now...

July 1, 2008
I finally figured out what was wrong with the memory card reader, so now I can finally update again!
I haven't manged too much more progress, nothing really big anyway. I finished half of the corset (besides grommets, which I'm putting off because I hate them), and have made the Hat-of-Doom, which I love.
I've spent most of the past few days working on arrows. Yes, those simple little accents that are peppered all over her beautiful outfit. Those deceptively simple little incidentals that nearly made me lose my flippin' mind.
I decided to go the cheapo route with the arrows, utilizing an easily accessible medium - cardboard. The stuff is all over the house, so I (stupidly) thought, "Let's try that!" ~headdesk~
Granted, making the arrows is not difficult. It's just extraordinarily time consuming and tedious, involving allot of really small pieces and lengths of wire. If you aren't patient you could probably end up throwing everything in a pile and setting it on fire out of frustration.
The first batch that I m
ade looked great, I was really pleased with them. Then, I put them on my hat. And they were FREAKIN' HUGE. Very sad, because otherwise they looked great. So, I made a second batch of arrows, markedly smaller arrows. They look good. Not as good as the first batch, but I can't really change anything about them without making them too bulky. But I'm still pleased.
I know I said I was going to keep the hat for last since I was so excited about it, but I really wanted that hat. I made the base form out of cross-stitch "canvas", which is actually sort of a plastic grid that can be cut by the yard. One yard goes a LONG way. I bought one yard of plastic canvas over a year ago for various projects, and I still have some left over.
What I did for Caterina's hat was basically just look at the artbook pictures and cut out the pieces as I saw fit. Instead of having one large piece for the main part as some have done, I cut it up into bits so I could get the angles that I saw in all the artwork. The body of the hat ended up being five main pieces, with a flat top piece.
It took a couple of times, a bit of tweaking, but I finally got the hat to look like I wanted. I'm absolutely in love with this hat. I keep running around the house while wearing it. :p I'm still working on embellishing it, but I have the main cross in the front done, and all those blasted arrows.
Another note on the arrows...there are 16 arrows on her hat alone. At the moment, I don't have the fabric to move on to making her cloak, but there are arrows all along the front part of the cloak. ~dies~ I know I have at least 10 more arrows to make, if not more. I'll be glad if I never see another arrow after this project.
Besides the hat and a whole hell of arrows, I've managed a bit of work on the corset. It'd been sitting in my project pile for over a year, and when I finally dug it back out I was
pleased to see that I had managed quite a bit more work than I had remembered. It already had steel boning in it, and all the scrollwork, the most time consuming part, had already been done.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any left over fabric from which to make the ruffles! I was only able to find one length of fabric from which I could make the ruffle for one side of the corset. I painted the piping gold, added the piping and the ruffle on both the top and the bottom, and painted on the line below the scrollwork. I'm really happy with how the first half of the corset turned out, I just hope the second half turns out as well. In the picture, you can see the finished side on the left and the unfinished side on the right.
Right now I'm working on finishing up her sleeves. To my great dismay, bits of gold paint are starting to flake off of the tape that I used on the sleeve crosses, so I had to repaint some of those bits before moving on. I have one sleeve all assembled and pinned to the bodice, and will probably get the other sleeve to the same place before the end of the night.


June 29, 2008

Wow, it feels like I've been working on this costume for weeks and weeks, but it's actually only been 7 days! I feel even more encouraged about all the progress I've made!
Things have been going really smoothly. I've finished all the skirt panels and positioned them on the waist in their proper places. I haven't sewn them on yet, but that won't take too long once I dig out my machine again.
The sleeves have been cut out of the main fabric and the lining, and I decided to go ahead and decorate the sleeves with some scrollwork, too, as this picture shows them. Of course, going with that picture, that also means I have to put a cross on her back and a bit of scrollwork, but that shouldn't be too bad.
I know I said I was going to keep her hat for last, but I really wanted to make her hat, so I started on it last night. I'm pleased with how it's turning out, even if it's not how I imagined it going. The shape is right and it looks good on, so I'm happy.
I've started on the dreaded Arrows-of-Doom. I've already made 8 of the little buggers, but now I'm beginning to think they're too bulky. The arrows in the artwork are a bit more delicate. I'm going to do some experimenting today to see if I can get a better result, but I really like the material I'm working with...cardboard! And I have to say, they look rather spiffy once they're all painted up. ^^
And now, progress pics from the last week of work. It was mostly wrestling with scrollwork and skirt panels. I have pics of my hat, but for some reason the card reader isn't reading my camera's memory card anymore, so they're trapped in the camera.
Pics, left to right - sleeve with the scrollwork on, before it was painted; skirt panels, all prepped and ready to go; Mutant Caterina! An unfinished corset, three skirt panels, and pinned on sleeves!; and finally, all the skirt panels, all pretty and pinned to the bodice.


June 22, 2008

Seeing as I've hit a mental block with Ashlotte (I just can't work on her anymore, it's driving me nuts), I've decided to pick one of my old projects back up. I'd never really given up hope on finishing my Caterina Sforza cosplay. From the moment I first saw the artbook version of her outfit, I was in love! I had to have it! So shiny! So intricate! HAD...TO...HAVE...IT.
And there was a hat. An epic hat, that eats souls.

I had actually started on it a while back...over a year ago, come to think of it. I had started it for A-kon 18, but ran out of time, money, and patience. The skirt panels and the bodice were already cut out and pinned together, salvaged from an old red Victorian velveteen gown that I never wore anymore. I had bought some fabric for the corset and painted on the scrollwork, and things were progressing nicely.
Then, I did something stupid. I had all this black latex that I had bought for a Kadaj cosplay that had never gotten off the ground. Yes, it's the same fabric I'm now using for Ashlotte. (I bought an entire bolt of the stuff, it's getting used for almost everything.) I decided that I was going to draw the scrollwork on the opposite side of the latex (it has a white fabric backing), and then painstakingly cut it out. I thought that if I sprayed on enough layers of paint, I could get the leather texture of the latex to go away.
I was wrong.
I sprayed, and sprayed, and sprayed. The texture would not go away. I became EXTRAORDINARILY frustrated, so I gathered everything up, shoved it in a basket, and didn't think about it for an entire year.
Below are pics of the work I had already gotten done.



As you can see, I'd actually made a good amount of progress. I'd managed to cut out four of the eight panels of scrollwork, with a fifth panel already drawn out and ready to be cut. The corset was 60% finished, and the rest was going to be pretty easy.
I just got so bloody frustrated that I didn't want to see it anymore.
Well, now I'm back on it. I figured out a way to get rid of the texture on the scrollwork, and it seems so simple now that I'm smacking myself in the head for not seeing it before. I simply laid a layer of clear packing tape over the scrollwork, cut out what wouldn't be needed, and spray painted it all metallic gold. As simple as it was, it worked beautifully. The texture was gone, and I finally had that smooth finished that I had always been working for. But, as simple as it was, it was very time consuming. I had to spray paint the scrollwork with a layer of white matte paint so the tape would have something firm to stick to, and cutting out all the unnecessary tape was quite a task...I was basically cutting out the same panel again! But I think the end product was worth it.
I now have two finished skirt panels, and I'm very, very pleased with how they look. I'll probably take a stab at getting the bodice finished up with some sleeves and a collar, and I'll probably work out how the scrollwork on the cuffs is supposed to go. It's nice to be working on this project again after so much time! Below is a pic of today's progress. The white parts on the scrollwork were painted on using the same pearl white paint I'm using for Ashlotte. ^^

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