Monday, June 9

Making a DragonCon Costume: Another Adventure

In a previous post, I talked about the idea of making a Littlefinger costume when one (OK, me) doesn't know how to sew. I decided to abstract the costume for practical concerns, such as my total lack of putting threaded needle to clothes and the Atlanta climate in September among 52,000 people (about the size of Hoboken, NJ). I went into my first fabric store to see what options I had for making a costume, starting with no set notion of how this would be done. I was a blank slate.

A few days after, I went into another such store, this time a member of a national franchise -- 790 stores in 49 states, says their website. But this store is much more than fabrics; it covers crafts and art supplies and hokey smoke this store is huge. Immediately, I found a larger sample of fabrics and pieces of a potential costume. Of course, I would have been overwhelmed had I gone here first. I am grateful to have wandered through the first, smaller store. I blow them David Letterman kisses. God love ya.

However, this second store was the sewing equivalent of Toys R Us. I could see how making costumes could be addictive. If someone (not me) knew what they were doing, this would be a regular haunt, sucking dry the wallet on a weekly basis. I am not that person because I have not yet experienced the crushing defeat of failed ideas and time management. My crafting adventure is all hypothetical right now, all shiny and new like romance on the Love Boat. I float in a fog of blissful ignorance. I intend to enjoy this while it lasts, but that knowledge is balanced by an awareness that I need to get to work. I have to leave time for failure and recovery and hangovers and apologies and second and third tries.

Remember, we're working of this costume style abstracted for comfort and low skill level. Here's what I found:

Hi, textured fabrics. We gonna be friends.

I'm thinking the bulk of the work will be folding and fastening the fabric atop itself. Then I'll look at attaching it to the jacket. But what to what extent? Do I anchor it to the jacket at both edges of each strip? Do I make a backing panel beneath the folds and attach that panel to the jacket? Can I affix this at the shoulders only/ Do I only anchor the top fabric only at the neckline? No option is excluded yet.

The other bit of work will be the gold accents, and the above picture makes it more obvious that they are lines of gold dots. I saw some possibilities for these in the first store, including individual beads or flat ribbons. This second store gave me what I was looking for.

A string of sequins would be easier to attach. I wouldn't have to set each one onto the fabric. Maybe I could sew the string to that "Celtic poncho" every three inches or so. That sounds OK to June Me, but admittedly maybe less so to August Me.

Still, whether they are individual or on strings, sequins already make me paranoid that they will detach. I can see that hovering over my brain all day, making me fear each small and unavoidable collision at DragonCon. They will average out to about one every minute. But sewing would be more dependable than the iron-on nailheads. The change of climates moving inside and out at the convention would weaken those. What about the one thing I didn't find at the first store?

Paint paint paint. To me, at this point, the more attractive option is to sit and dab hundreds of dots onto the fabric. I've done similar work in earlier non-costume projects. I can zone out and get that done, unlike with sewing which will require my alert attention at each step. A strong paint or dye can survive a hectic day of movement and grazes. A 3D paint can scrape off too. But a dye will set in the fabric. It won't go nowhere.

I might check another store or two for fabric options, but I think I found my dot solution. 

I also need to think about footwear. If I get new shoes for the costume, I'll need to break them in. I found these at Target.

This style will work fine. The jacket will cover the tops of my shoes, and unless I'm wearing Converse All-Stars, almost any shoe will do (as long as it's a loafer). I don't have to get these, of course. I can hit up thrift stores for shoes already broken in and cheaper. Broken in and cheaper, that's my gold standard.

I talked to my wife about what I had discovered, coincidentally while she was sewing another stole to her robes for graduation. She has practically more stoles than I have years in college. I felt pretty confident about the direction I was headed with the amount of time remaining, and then she asked the magic question.

"Why don't you let me sew it?"

Man, part of me would love to hand this off to her. She can do it. She would love to noodle through the same questions of construction and hit upon the perfect solution. But I want that too. I'm selfish about that. Also, I don't want to throw this at her and have her fix my problem. This is my costume with my set of obstacles to overcome. Walking away from it would mean I quit. And I'm old enough that I need to learn to sew.

I would not mind, I told her, learning at her side. Perhaps she could show me the first few stitches and hand it off. I could give it a try for a few feet of fabric and then have her inspect it. We can still tag-team on this, but I'd feel like a heel if I shrugged it off.

I did tell her that if I fell into the well of despair, I would gladly look to her for help, but it would not be at the last second. I would give her plenty of time to set the costume straight. That means I need to get started soon so I'll have that time to get my footing or give her time to rescue the project if I can't hack it.

Maybe by this time next week I'll make some stitches on a sample of fabric. Maybe.

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