Costume and Graphic Design

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Steampunk-Loli-Loki: Wedding Gown Turned Loli

As I mentioned in my tophat post, the idea of Loli-Loki was partly inspired by our hot summer weather, and the need to have a version of my, now recognized, Lady Loki. Lolita styles, while usually consisting of many layers of lace and other things, can be made from lighter weight fabrics. This was my original intention.

That is not what happened.

May, 2014. I am at a local thrift shop scouting out some sources for fabrics. The formalwear section usually has crinolines that can be scavenged from some of the prom dresses. There she was. A tiered lace wedding gown. That much lace would cost a fortune! And would be a pain in the butt to sew. And there it was, already layered onto the skirt. Cut that in half, and I have two lace skirts, layer them on top, and I have a poofy knee length loli-skirt! Price tag…. $30! It would cost at least two or three times that for the lace alone. She came home with me.

Wedding Dress fits

Looking at the dress in the light of my sewing room, I thought… this looks to be about my size. Let’s give ‘er a go. Like a glove. I think it fit better than my own wedding dress. It was perfect. The lace sleeves, the high standing collar, and the lace bodice. Not something I would have worn normally, but oh so perfect for my Loli-Loki! My thoughts of cutting the skirt from the bodice floated away, and I decided to just crop it down at the knee.

Dress trimmed

The train was a decent length. Once the bottom half of the dress was cut away, I gathered it into a waistband and dropped it over the dress. The fullness of the layers of lace were perfect! I found an old bumroll from a costume I made a decade ago, and stuffed that underneath. The back bustle started coming together!

loli loki bustle

There is still work to be done to finish the dress, but this put me lightyears ahead! Thought this project I have had Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” playing on repeat in my mind. Yup. Thrift shopping. Even us seasoned costumers do it.


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Steampunk-Loli-Loki: Tophat

Headgear seems to be my theme lately! It is probably because headpieces are easily interchangeable, and can drastically alter the look of a costume. So, here we are today to talk about my mini tophat for the Steampunk/Lolita/Loki for the end of July photoshoot.

Summer gets hot here. We have seen 30+ degrees Celsius for days at a time this year. That, and the humidity brought on by the threat of thunderstorms most nights make for very muggy, very hot days. Point being, I don’t want to be under layers of heavy fabric, foam, leather, more foam, more fabric, and on top of all that, a stuffy, tight, sweaty helmet.

I have become known in our Steampunk group as Lady Loki. Even out of garb, I am still often referred to by that moniker. Even my Steampunk Sailor Mars has drifted from memory this last year. And I don’t really have many decent pics yet of my Loki work, so I want to change things up a bit! Mars can stay in my closet a little while longer!

How can I make Loki more comfortable in hot summer weather? Loli it up! Lolita style, even though it consists of layers of lace, tulle, and other frilly fluffy things, can be made from lighter weight fabrics.

With the Loli-Loki idea firmly entrenched in my mind, I began looking for headgear. I wanted something that could be de-Loki’d for other purposes. A lovely brown hat caught my eye at the thrift store. The smooth feminine lines, the classic style, it was a beautiful find! $7? Take my money! Once I started working on this found treasure, I came to realize that it was not a Loki hat. It was too feminine… too beautiful and pretty. Loki should have a fierceness about her. She can be incredibly feminine, but she must have a harder edge to her. Cover her in lace, but cinch that corset tight. The hat, while gorgeous, will go back to the closet for another outfit.

Mini tophat? Why not?

I blocked out a tophat pattern in paper first. I wanted the front to be pointed, so I drew a teardrop shape that would be the top of the hat, an oval for the brim, and a long piece that would serve as the sides.

Using the paper template, I taped them together and made adjustments as necessary to the shapes and sizes. I originally made it quite large, and had to scale it back a little. Once I had the shape figured out, I could use these pieces to cut the interfacing.

Hat pattern

I dug through the interfacing section of the fabric store until I found the heaviest they had. It is quite thick, about 1/8 inch. This would be thick enough to stand up, but light enough that I wouldn’t feel like I had a brick on my head.

hat half way

I glued the side wrapped around the top flat with hot glue. No brim yet. Using the same pattern pieces, I cut the fashion fabric. There were leftover pieces from the cape and jacket. The jacket material went on the outside, and the lighter green cape material served for a lining. Sewing each of these into a sleeve, I inserted the rigid hat form into the outer fabric cover, and glued the lining to the inside.

hat lined

For the brim, I cut the large circle out of the fabric, but not the hole in the middle. I stitched most of the way around, forming a bag, which I turned right side out while a small section remained open. Once the brim was fitted into place, I handstitched the last couple of inches. Turning my needle to the center hole, I basted around it so the fabric was snug all the way around. This would hold it in place while I cut the fabric from the center hole. I now I have fabric covered donut. (sorry for the lack of photo of this step. I was getting excited about my hat, and didn’t grab the camera! I plan on making more of these, and will try to remember next time.)

Inserting the top of the hat into the donut of a brim, I glued it into place. This leaves the raw edges of the fabric hanging free inside the hat. Using some bias tape, I covered these up and tacked the tap up inside. If this were a larger hat that fit around the head, you would use some soft tape of some variety to hide the raw edges, and it would become the hatband on the inside. This might be seen as a comfort factor for most people, but what it actual does is hide the raw edges where the top and bottom of the hat come together. Something I did not know until I made a tophat for my husband’s Mad-Hatter a few years ago.

Using a bit of twill tape, I fixed the ends to either side of the hole, forming a strap. This strap can be attached to hair clips which will hold the hat to my head. Yay!

hat on head

So, the hat is now complete in the most base sense. But it needs decoration!

hat decorated

I decided that the brim was too flat. It should follow the angles formed with the front peak of the hat itself. If I had thought of this earlier, I could have stitched a wire inside the seam of the fashion fabric, keeping it hidden but allowing me to shape the brim to my desire. Instead of picking it apart, I think I will use a heavier brass wire that matched the brass/gold trims on the rest of the costume. My hope is to give it a purposeful look, instead of the appearance of an afterthought.

Using some of the same green fabric from the lining, I wrapped it around the base to hide the join, and added a decorative buckle and some feathers. I am trying to figure out a way to incorporate the World Serpent into there somewhere. We will see how that goes. For now, I have a hat that I would be proud to wear for the photoshoot later this month.

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Loki: The Helmet Continues

So last time, I had a wire frame/foam/fabric structure. The next step was to layer and layer and layer paper mache, and smooth out the lines as much as possible. This had mixed success.

Using paper towel (it is thick enough to fill gaps, and super absorbent, holding the glue really well) and Modpodge (a type of craft glue/varnish thing). I would paint a layer of Modpodge, lay down a small piece of paper towel, and then paint a heavy layer of over top, letting it really soak in. After each layer, I had to let it dry for about 10 minutes before applying the next layer. I would work on it in spurts over a series of evenings, driving my husband mad. I had a shower curtain, the helmet, hot glue gun, paper towel, and Modpodge on the dining room table for about two months. (I’m sorry, honey! But I really needed to get this done!)

There is a ridge detail on the top of his helmet. By twisting small pieces of towel and gluing them into place I was able to recreate this. I then continued my flat layers overtop to smooth it in.

Mache 1

The horns were posing a bit of a problem. The helmet was now so front heavy, it fell forward into my eyes. I needed the fit to be loose enough that I could pull it on, but that extra room also gave it space to slide forward. My first attempt at this was to counterweight the back with sand. There is a large hollow at the back. Using craft sand (so I know there is no broken glass or other unsavoury things that can be found in the sand at a playground…) I mixed small amounts with some Modpodge to make a sandy glue. This, I “painted” into the hollow space, one layer at a time. Between layers, I would let the sand dry over night and then apply a layer of paper towel/glue to secure the sand in place. A few rounds of this, and the helmet was feeling a little more balanced, but it would still flop forward if I tilted my head down.

sand weight 1

So, my problem was not yet solved. I tried attaching a strap so I could tighten it once the thing was in place on my head, but I couldn’t get my fingers in to tighten the buckle. And it still flopped around. Back to the drawing board…

While I was thinking up ways to keep the helmet from wiggling around, I continued on the exterior. An attempt at sanding the outside to a nice smooth finish ended in disappointment. Unfortunately, Modpodge remains fairly soft. It just gummed up my sandpaper. Instead, I just painted layer upon layer of Modpodge in the hopes that the thick fluid would fill in some of the pockmarked texture left by the paper towel. This has been working to some degree.

painted 1

I spray painted it black so I could get a better sense of the texture. I tried sanding it again, but with the same gummy result. Oh well. On with the painting of Modpodge…

wearing 1

The journey continues. It is looking more and more impressive each time I work on it. Slowly, it is taking shape, and feeling better. I am trying to think of ways that I can excuse or hide the lumpy surface texture. There are a few details yet to engrave into the helmet, and those may help distract the eye from the uneven surface. We will see!

Onward! My goal is to have this presentable for a Steampunk themed photoshoot at the end of the July. While I don’t intend to wear it for the shoot (I have a Steampunk/Lolita/Loki outfit, and the helmet just doesn’t really work…) I would like to have it as a prop. This means it doesn’t need to fit perfectly, as long as the exterior looks decent. There are other costume pieces that I will need to have wearable, so those have been taking precedence over the helmet, and those I will cover here as time permits. The plan is to ultimately have this piece and the full movie-inspired outfit ready for action by mid-September, when we have our Comic Expo. I am squeeing in anticipation!