Tuesday, July 22


The Countess and I watched the Karl Urban Dredd Sunday.

I admire the film’s singular plot. There are no subplots. There is no romance. There is no unveiling of the face. He and Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) work their way up a locked-down building to arrest the drug kingpin, played by Lena Headey. That’s the film.

I know very little about Dredd as a comic, but I liked this.

If you like this image and want buy it or commission other artwork, please check here.

Monday, July 21

Making a DragonCon Costume: Poncho Paint

Previous Project Littlefinger Posts:
Sew Very Doomed
Another Adventure
Test Case
Idea Collision

The look we're going for.

While The Countess took the pinned panels to her parents' sewing machine, I tested the fabric paint.
Instead of using sequins or rivets for the tabard trim, I decided to go with paint. I wouldn't have to worry about things falling off the costume, and if a paint dab was damaged, I could replace it easily. I bought three types of fabric paint from the craft store and cut out three scrap strips of the cloth.

Place bets now.
The Martha Stewart brand (right) comes in a tube with a small cap. I applied it with a paint brush but found it too thin. I thought the Tulip brand 3D paint (left) would be the winner, but it dispenses too quickly. That makes for a small pile of paint in no time. That's unwieldy. Might be good for piping though.

Gloopy goo.
But the Elmers Painters stick has a nice applicator tip that's the perfect size, and it's a thick paint.

Da winnah
This is my new best friend. I did these rows in about ten seconds. I can bust out the pleat trim in no time. And speaking of which ...

Sewing porn.

The tabard is stitched into pleats now, thanks to The Countess. The back panel doesn't quite work the way we thought, so that will be set aside and placed on the mental back burner. But we are getting there.

Saturday, July 19

Thor and Harley

This was the first drawing suggested by my four-year-old, and it was indirect.

He was cleaning his room when he picked up a Harley figure and her hammer. He said "her hammer makes her like Thor." This was just a few days after Marvel announced the new female Thor, and he has no idea about it, but the idea hit me like a firecracker.

I worked up a sketch in gray markers and Sharpies, lightboxed it, and redrew it with Bic markers. Then it was lettered in Illustrator.

Friday, July 18

Making a DragonCon Costume: Sweatshop

Previous Project Littlefinger Posts:
Sew Very Doomed
Another Adventure
Test Case
Idea Collision

Earlier in the week, The Countess prepared one side of the Littlefinger costume on our dining room table. The table was now tucked in the bay window to grab all the sunlight needed to work with dark cloth. She transferred onto it the measurements from the pattern she made over the weekend and gave herself a half-inch, um, ... I forgot the phrase for it, but in print it's called a bleed, the buffer zone between the material you definitely need, and what you can cut away.

The cloth is more black than this picture depicts

The cloth was folded on itself to form two layers. She pinned the layers together along their outer edges, except where the cloth was folded. That fold makes the exterior edge. Pinned together, the shapes created a deflated tube. She made a short instruction list for my half of the work, and I tackled that when I got back from work yesterday.

Following her original blue pencil outline, I cut outside the pins, creating two blocks of double-layered cloth. The table was too short for me to cut confidentially, and I moved everything to the floor. I was then instructed to duplicate her original length of fabric. I laid the cut blocks end to end on the floor and unspooled (unbolted?) a similar length of material.. I folded that cloth inside out, as hers was, and placed her blocks atop it.

Her blocks under my length of material
I traced their outlines on my material and pinned the layers together.


Tracing around her blocks
Because my outlines were based on her untrimmed blocks, my bleed areas are much bigger. I had more room for error. After pinning the layers, I cut out the blocks, creating slightly larger duplicates of hers. By now I had worked up a sweat, either from anxiety or the physical movement. The kneeling and bending and double-checking and pinching and pinning and squinting and tracing is work. A surprising amount of work. Before each step, I asked her to eyeball what I was doing, to verify my interpretation of her instructions.

Cutting and kneeling and sweating a little

Now we had four flat tubes; two forming the torso section of the tabard/Celtic poncho, and the other two for the legs.
The four blocks, still inside out

While I had Deputy duty for bath and bed, she turned the fabric right-side out and pinned quick pleats onto the fabric to play with widths and weight. We draped it on me to check the angles of the cloth and the length of the cloth; it will end right above my shoes.

The early pleats.
Tomorrow, The Countess will borrow a sewing machine and sew the pleats in place. The plan is to use iron tape to hold them in place, and while that might be enough, we both feel better with stitches as redundant support. The cloth we picked is lighter than the original costume and darker. The robe I got is black, steering us away from Littlefinger's shades of brown. We ended the night shopping online for wigs for her costume.

I cut a small length of fabric to play with fabric paints. Once the pleats are done, and the sections joined, I'll add dots onto the edges of the pleats. And that means the costume is 80% done. We'll have the tabard, the  robe (the collar will be supported with an interior clasp), the silver pin, and the cloth layers under the robe. That leaves the shoes and belt and maybe out-turned cuffs on the sleeves.


Monday, July 14

Making a DragonCon Costume: Idea Collision

Previous Project Littlefinger Posts:
Sew Very Doomed
Another Adventure
Test Case

When we last spoke, I had sewn closed a pocket hole. I had never sewn/sewed/sown/stitched before. Between that momentous moment and Aug. 27, I am hoping to make a Game of Thrones Littlefinger costume for DragonCon. Much like stepping over a speed bump in preparation of climbing Everest.

I knew this was a lofty goal. I tried to make it easy. Instead of making the base layer, I bought a Matrix Neo robe. That left me with making the "Celtic poncho," strip belt, and maybe that little pouch (probably not; it'll get walloped by convention crowds).

Not long after fixing the pocket, I spoke to my wife, The Countess, about my plan of attack. She surprised me with two bits of news:

1) She rented a costume to wear alongside mine at the convention.
Not a specific GoT character, but it would be a genre/period-appropriate dress. Originally, she was going as Elasti-Girl from The Incredibles. This change is good. We could walk together in the parade and pose for pictures together. I'm all for this.

2) We would have access to a sewing machine.
After a quick rush of relief, I froze. While this would surely make the assembly easier, it would only do so for someone who knows how to use it. I don't. I threaded my first needle and knotted my first thread last week. I knew "sewing machine" was a good idea in the abstract, but if I encountered one in the wild ...

Who in the house knew how to use a sewing machine? She did.

Deep breath.

I had an idea of how this costume project would go, and it didn't include handing it over to my much more skilled wife unless my hands fell off. I knew it was a possibility that she would save my Littleass when calamity befell. That was a 50/50 chance. I told her I would only come to her for help if there was enough time for her to help. I would not throw her a pile of cloth the day before the convention. But I had every intention of doing this myself.

I showed her my notions of making the costume. I cut a pillow case in half to show here the two types of folds I had in mind. She suggested a way to make one set of those folds, and I realized we were heading into a higher level of costume fidelity than I wanted. It's not realistic to recreate the costume exactly. Not with my skill level. I had already simplified the fabrics in consideration of the Atlanta setting. The costume would be lighter and cooler. My mantra for this project is "represent not replicate." She, however, has a higher standard for everything (except spouses), and that's when we had a yelling argument. Over a costume. Because I am a moron.

Jump forward an inexcusable amount of time, and we made up and agreed to tackle this in a more deliberate fashion. I would work up what I could in the design stage, show her what I had prepared, and she would advise on the feasibility of the blueprints.At this point she had not seen in person the fabric I picked or the many reference pictures I had gathered. It was all verbal and half-understood on both sides. Let's start fresh tomorrow at the fabric store, agreed? Agreed.

The next morning, we strolled that store, looking at the fabric I picked and the ones I had rejected in a Goldilocks fashion. She seconded my pick and my reasons, and I felt better about my level of progress. She suggested an amount of cloth to buy and extra tools to make the costumes. I picked out a sampling of cloth paints for the costume accents.

That night, she hit the Googles. I told her about a Littlefinger costume webpage I found weeks ago. It was heavy on the costume ingredients but not the recipe. The Countess took a different tactic: We needed a patter for the "Celtic poncho," but its a piece of clothing easily found elsewhere, like Jedi costumes, and there were online tutorials for those. Also, that item has a name: a tabard.

She studied more costume reference photos, and she found an image that caused me trouble early on.

I decided to adjust the costume to make the back symmetrical with the front. My ideas for making this half-back seemed to lead inevitably to quick wear and tear on the robe beneath it. She had a new idea that made a lot of sense, and combining that with the Jedi tabard, she worked up a pattern.

She measured me and sketched it out on tissue paper, and then we brainstormed construction ideas. The picture again created an issue right behind the neck. What if, we thought, we don't worry about filling that area between the shoulder blades and extend the vertical panels to the back? Or make one long strip of fabric and wear it like a very loose scarf. She didn't quite see what I was describing, so I grabbed a pair of jeans and wore them like the tabard. That showed her what the back panel might do. 

Then we cut some fabric and pinned it together. Her idea was to make a tube.

The pinned ends would be sewn together, and the fabric would be layered multiple times toward the hem. Those folds would be tacked and sewn together.

This is a very loose example of the folds, but you get the idea. I then would add the gold accent dots on either side of the flaps, and the tabard is done.

We seem to have plenty of fabric to work this up (and use some as scrimmage), but for now we're letting it simmer to return to it with fresh eyes. We're getting there.

Wednesday, July 9



HEROES OF SINCLAIR, the six-issue trade of my Focus comics, is now on Comixology! You get 150 pages of comics for $5, people. Superwomen galore clobbering bad guys all damn day.

It took a year, almost to the day, to get here, and I see this as a spark to keep making comics, either with this cast or others. Starting in 2010, Focus developed into a serial adventure with an ever-expanding cast. I've enjoyed making it and getting noticeably better with each issue. I hope to maintain that.

Thanks for everyone's support, especially The Countess and The Deputy. By the way, they both appear in this trade.

Tuesday, July 8

Making a DragonCon Costume: Test Case

Previous Project Littlefinger Posts:
Sew Very Doomed
Another Adventure

For the first time in my 42ish years, I sewed something. I fixed a pocket.

My favorite pair of shorts has suffered a hole in the right front pocket for about a year. I may have lost 25 pens to that miniature Sarlaac. I decided I couldn't make it worse, and I needed to try my hand at sewing something before I make my Littlefinger costume. How hard could it be to fix a hole?

Then I tried to thread the needle.

 This is me before.

This is me after.

I figured the smaller the needle, the less damage to the fabric. The Countess has a full sewing basket, and I had a choice of needles. I picked the beading needles because they were thinner. This was about three minutes after I discovered there are different size needles. (Hashtag: Madness)

I tried to thread that sucker for ten minutes, and it was getting closer and closer to my squinty face. I gave up. I grabbed a quilting needle instead. I threaded that one in about three minutes. So okay. Yea, Team Me.

I then pinched the hole closed, stuck out my tongue like a five-year-old, and shoved the needle around the hole about ten times. I'm positive it was overkill. But dang if that hole wasn't closed. I used perhaps a pound of thread, but from now on, call it Pocket Gandalf because a pen shall not pass.

 On the left is the Aristotelian ideal of the pocket. 
On the right is the one I repaired.

I have an old pillowcase to practice the folds on the "Celtic poncho." I have no illusions that the case will be usable after this. It's a sacrifice to the sewing gods to whom I meekly beseech.