|Let's cut to the chase here.|
I started reading the books to him during bath time, unsure if he had the interest or attention span. Turn out, he has both. Wheelbarrows of both. Now I show him the movies after we finish each book, and he listens to the audiobooks everynight. They help his reading skills; just last weekend, he read the first Sorting Hat scene to his mom. (It's a little spooky.)
He turns every stick into a wand or a Quidditch broom. All he talks about is how everyone else at the school could have beaten the basilisk in the second book. For example, Fred and George would have beaten it with bludgers. Dude's all in. We recently started the fourth book, ... and the Goblet of Fire. So far it's about sports fans camping. We're not thrilled.
Last year we took him to his first DragonCon. Back then, he was all about the Lord of the Rings movies, and he was adamant about going as Frodo. So we made him a costume. He was a hit, even to the actors from the films. This year, yep, he wants to go as Harry Potter. Because we're late to this franchise, the Potter costume materials are fairly cheap, and we'll buy most of them instead of making them. I asked if he would mind me going as a Harry Potter character. He said he'd be up for it, and I suggested Sirius Black. He said sure. He thought I would dress in the prison costume. I had other ideas.
|Lookit this guy.|
|The cops were real, and they were spectacular.|
But the Sirius costume is intimidating. Gordon and Littlefinger and Shipwreck from GI Joe were easy to put together. For Shipwreck, I went to military supply stores; I did practically all the shopping in one weekend. For Gordon, I shaved and wore one of my suits. Couldn't be easier. Littlefinger's costume required what now seems like no work at all. But Sirius's "bass player in a 1970s Doctor Who-themed funk band" style is a high mountain to climb, and I figured I'd be better off farming out the work.
|Let's get dandy.|
What I did not have was the money to cover the estimate I got back. It raised my eyebrows, but, not knowing the market, I thought it sounded borderline reasonable. It would at least be professional and sturdy, unlike what I might attempt. But when I ran the estimate by my wife and friends, they balked. They said it was way too high for just a coat and vest, which is all I asked for. Way too much for a costume. OK then. I'll try to make this myself.
(Aside: Why not try someone else, you ask? I wanted it to be made locally, and I live in the sticks. The seamstress I contacted is the only one in our phone book or local Google. The only fabric store within a half-hour of my house sells quilting materials and only quilting materials. 'Tis a small mountain hamlet.
Second, if I let slip the previous estimate, the potential tailor would reasonably think I wanted them to sell themselves short. I Googled Sirius Black costumes, and I found someone offering to make an entire costume for about $200, but it's online, and that seems fraught with peril. I'm sure people work those kind of partnerships all the time. Me, I get the heebie-jeebies thinking about mailing fabric samples back and forth and double-checking measurements and so on.
And, third, I wanted to give this a try first. If I bombed, I still had time to hire someone, and that earned firsthand knowledge of the suit's difficulty would make the next estimate easier to swallow.)
You must know -- you need to know -- that I am new to sewing and costuming. But I have mentally cataloged a great deal from cosplay blogs and friends who make outfits. I'm lucky to know skilled and creative folks. They set a high bar, and they post lots of process pictures and information. I wanted to do them proud. I got to work.
|Anyone for bowling?|
I bought some white and gray fabric paint. The gray was too faint on the test I did inside the shirt. I didn't bestripe the whole shirt because the suit jacket and vest will cover much of it. I only did those four sections and the collar. This took maybe 20 minutes. Dried quickly too. So far, so good.
|My hand looks gigantic.|
|Let's start surgery.|
|See my vest. See my vest.|
|These are screencaps.|
|A boon to laziness.|
|The back of a stamp.|
|The front of the stamp with spacing marks matching the leaf angles.|
The package gave me a strong pressure surface and a good handhold. My best trick was this: When I made the stamps, I first measured a one-inch spacer on each of them so I knew immediately how closely to place the stamp farther down the rows. You can see the marks on the packages. There are two of them because the leaf angles alternate by row. I hand painted the shapes each time I used the stamp instead of mashing them into puddles of paint. If I did that, the stamps would smear the fabric with excess paint.
|I done thunk this through.|
|Green and gold.|
|Roses. As if by magic!|
I found good tutorials online. I practiced first with a spare piece of cloth and realized two things: The buttons I bought were simple loop backs, not the four-hole types; that made sewing them on very easy for a newbie like me. But, second, the buttons were too big for the holes. Gah. I bought new buttons and sewed them on the vest in just over a hour's time. For a rookie, I feel pretty good about the work.
I found the vest chain on eBay as well. I searched for art deco pocket watch chain and snagged it within 10 minutes. I couldn't find a proper red pendant for the chain and instead painted cheap plastic jewelry. They came in sets of three, and I painted all of them as back-ups in case the first one fell off. I safety pinned the chain ends inside the pockets and attached the center of the chain to the vest using slide rings (like you use for keychains) on a buttonhole and used a smaller slide ring to attach the painted bauble to the first slide ring.
There's a very quick look at the Sirius belt buckle on that YouTube video. I didn't find anything resembling it in shopping searches, even in western gear.
I instead bought a blank oval buckle with a similar border online for about $5. I tested markers on the back to find one that didn't smudge. The Sharpies worked fine and dried quick. I drew the pattern freehand in a few minutes.
Right after I finished it, my son, the obsessive, asked if I was going to have hand tattoos too, and I didn't know what he was talking about. He picked up the TV remote and found the shot he had in mind, as Sirius says goodbye to Harry at the end of the third film.
Oh, well. Yes. Of course, dude. Of course. I'll add those to the neck and chest tattoos I'll draw on with Sharpies. The patterns are online. I did a marker test, and it should be pretty simple.
|Darn poofy wig|
I'll shave the facial hair back a bit and calm down that wig and Sharpie on the tattoos, but, otherwise, that's it. The above picture shows the blank buckle, and the wig in its natural, peacock-display shape.
I'll wear this to HeroesCon for a few hours as a test drive and polish it for DragonCon a few months later. We'll see what I discover about it in Charlotte -- including, crucially, how recognizable it is -- very soon.