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Posts Tagged ‘Costuming’

*Game of Thrones Spoiler Alert*

Soooo I forgot to do a post on this costume! Back in January of 2014 a few friends and I did a “Red Wedding” cosplay from Game of Thrones. If you don’t know what the red wedding is, I’m sorry. Stop reading and don’t look at any of the pictures. If you do know what the Red Wedding is, I hope you enjoy this costume as much as I did. Don’t worry, we waited a tasteful 6+ months to debut this costume after that sad episode aired; we figured anyone really interested in watching or reading up to that point would have done so already.

Game of Thrones makes for the perfect winter cosplay. Arisia is held in January in Boston, so it was a little cold outside…but we weren’t cold! Our medieval garb allowed full-coverage and lots of comfortable layers. Really, aside from the hair extensions and gore, I could sleep in this costume. Yes, those are hair extensions. On the left we have the freshly stabbed Talisa Stark (aka Jeyne Westerling), in the middle is an impaled Rob Stark, and on the right is his grieving, forever silent mother Catelyn Stark. The dresses themselves were very straight-forward and we easily found patterns to accommodate us. The gore on my Talisa costume is all acrylic paint and nail polish (so that I wouldn’t be sticky. There’s nothing worse than having sticky, unstable gore on a costume that could smudge on someone else). Catelyn used my gelatin wound technique and nail polish to create her neck gash.

The above photo is of a cool Game of Thrones group that we ran into at the convention.

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Recently I made a King’s Landing Handmaiden dress from the ever popular series Game of Thrones. To complete the look, I needed a leather hand-painted belt. This is my step-by step process on how to construct said leather belt. You will need copy paper, a pencil, 3-5oz veg tan leather, leather scissors or a sharp box cutter knife. A leather punch with multiple sizes, a mallet, leather rivets and a leather rivet-setter tool, grommets, a grommet setter, some cord, liquid acrylic paints, and acrylic varnish. Optional leather tooling stamps.

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Start by drafting a pattern with a piece of paper. You can customize the size and shape to accommodate your own measurements. This section represents HALF of the belt. One half, on me, was roughly 10 inches long and 3 inches tall. I recommend experimenting and holding it up to your waist to see what looks good on you. If you have a long torso like me, try a tall belt. If you have a short torso, a short belt may look best.

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Trace the two halves of your belt onto 3-5oz vegetable tanned leather. Cut out using leather scissors or a box-cutter knife. I find that Scissors are way easier to get a clean cut with. You must take extra care with a knife to keep your edges clean.IMG_1129.JPG

To connect the two halves in the middle, cut some connection pieces for the same leather. I chose to connect the two halves with two thin rectangular strips of leather, but you may choose to use one thicker strip.  Line all the pieces up and mark where to punch holes for your hardware. The smaller holes on the wide side of the belt are for rivets that will join the two halves together. You should punch a hole just big enough to slide a rivet through, and no larger! The larger holes on the thinner end of the belt are for grommets which you will use to lace up the belt when it is complete.

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At this stage you may add any decorative tooling. I’ve done a simple stippling stitch pattern, which I only loosely followed while painting. It adds an extra level of texture and intrigue to the belt but it is not an essential step.

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Time for hardware! Rivet the belt together and insert and secure grommets. You will need a rivet setter and a grommet setter. You can’t make it look pretty with make-shift tools.

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Begin painting and embellishing! I recommend painting before applying any studs or embellishments. I paint my leather with liquid all purpose acrylics, and seal with an acrylic varnish. They come in a range of finishes; I prefer glossy for most projects. The paint that I mixed for the center of the belt had a little shimmer to it, which I think looks nice on a feminine character, but some costumes do not want to look shimmery.

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Hand-painted details will make your belt really stand-out. Here I did a base coat (or two) of pink over the most of the belt and let it dry completely overnight before painting on the flowers. You can draw lightly over dry acrylics with a pencil to plan out your design. Then paint right over the pencil. When the design is completely dry, use a kneaded eraser to lift up any pencil that is still visible. It should come off pretty easily–don’t scrub too hard. Once all the pencil is gone you can varnish the whole belt.
IMG_1189.JPGHere is the belt with the completed handmaiden dress. It really pulls the look together, right?

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My next article for Nerd Caliber is up! You can view the original, as well as countless other interesting nerd news articles at http://nerdcaliber.com

No one is born with perfect underwear. Purchasing proper undergarments for cosplay is something that you learn from years of experience, embarrassing photos, and annoying garment flaws. I’m here to save you some trouble and make you look better in your costume with a complete guide to cosplay undergarments.

You put countless hours of work into your costume, making sure that every detail is camera ready. But what about what goes under the costume? Have you thought about the parts the camera will never see? Sometimes having the right unmentionables makes all the difference in when casting off reality and bringing your character to life.

What’s the first step towards perfection you ask? Well, let’s start with the girls. I don’t mean the ladies; I mean the girls. Having the right bra (or lack thereof) is of major importance to just about every costume since your bussom is front and center. When cosplaying, you should really be wearing a bra, however we should never see that bra. That can sometimes be a challenge with skimpier costumes. My first recommendation is that everyone get familiar with bra-strap holders. These range from small clips to long horizontal straps. They clip onto your bra straps behind your back and keep your straps from falling down your shoulders. These are great for sleeveless costumes which don’t have an open back. You can also look into racer-back bras to ensure that your bra straps won’t be making an appearance, but without the extra assembly.

But what if your costume doesn’t have a back? Or shoulders? There’s always strapless bras, but hell, what if you costume doesn’t have a front? Well if you’re going to be bearing a lot of skin, but still want the extra lift and support of a bra, underwear and dance manufacturers everywhere now make stick-on invisible bras. These strange limited time use undergarments are essentially two free-floating bra cups which adhere to your skin independent of each other or any sort of strap. Some of them even allow you to “stick and lift,” as to effectively glue your breast in a higher location.

What if even these invisible bras cover too much boob? Well then you should rethink your costume, missy! No. I kid. But seriously. Put some clothes on… Anyhow, at the very minimum, one should be wearing at least a decent pair of pasties or petals. Petals are essentially adhesive nipple covers. They cover nothing except the very bare minimum and come in a range of shapes and nude colors. Petals are actually meant to be worn under very thin or tight fabric like a leotard, which otherwise do provide full coverage, but are an embarrassment in the cold. However petals will also work for you if your costume calls for nothing but suspenders on your top half. Where can you get these petals and invisible bras you ask? Just about any major lingerie retailer will have them, as well as any dance supply store.

Now that we’ve talked about hiding your bra, let’s talk about the bra itself. Bras come in several different shapes, sizes, and cuts, and they’re all designed to do different things. The first step in choosing the right bra is knowing your size. Grab a measuring tape and google super quick how to find your size or visit your local Victoria’s secret for a free fitting. It’s not rocket science but there are a remarkable number of women out there in the wrong size bra. Once you know your size its time to learn your shapes. They’ve got full coverage, demi, balconette, and plunge. They’re names say pretty much everything you need to know: full coverage covers the whole breast, demi means a partial cup which covers half to two thirds of the breast. A balconette is cut straight across the top and are shaped kind of like tea-cups, while a plunge has a super low neckline. Not every cut looks good on every woman. Try a few different styles on to see what looks best on you and will accommodate your costume’s neckline. The most commonly used styles in cosplay would be plunge and demi because of their low necklines and cleavage-creating side support.

Speaking of cleavage, it’s time for the fun stuff–the padding. Most bras today come with some form of padding in them because the whole world tells us that our boobs need to be perky, round, and enormous. An unlined bra means that there is no padding, and is typically of no use to cosplayers because so many anime characters have giant, well sculpted melons. A lightly-lined bra has a little bit of padding, and a push up has quite a bit of padding. There are pushup bras out there today (I’m looking at you Victoria’s secret) that will add one or even TWO cup sizes. These are a good investment if you like to cosplay women.

But what if even two cup sizes aren’t enough? Or what if you want more cleavage? There are lots of tricks you can do yourself at home to transform your chest for the day. Ever hear of chicken cutlets? Not the kind you eat of course, but the kind you stick down your shirt. No? Let me explain. Chicken cutlets are…well…silicon chicken cutlets that can be positioned in the bottom or sides of your bra to create more lift or cleavage. Some people also use socks. If you’re going all out to get cleavage out of a small bust, you can even use medical tape to literally tape your cleavage in place. Just lift, tape, and repeat until you’ve achieved your desired lift. But think carefully before taping that sensitive skin. Taking off a costume has never been so painful.

What if you need to go the other way with things? What if you need a small bussom? For minimal compression you can wear a simple sports bra to hold things down. If you need even more flattening power, you can bind your chest with an ace bandage, or wear a compression top. Google has more information for you, I can assure you. Find a good tutorial, and practice before the day of. Though I’ve never bound my chest, I hear it can be quite uncomfortable, especially if done incorrectly. Therefore, I do not feel qualified to comment on how it’s done.

Okay enough about boobs! What? I know, you can never have too many boobs. But what about the rest of you? Moving down the body, next we have the waist. I’ve never heard of a cosplayer trying to make their waistline bigger, but if you are that special exception, there is a chocolate cupcake in your local bakery with your name on it. Buy two dozen of those bad boys, and meet me at next month’s convention. However if you’re looking to shrink in a pinch, well then I’ve got some real pinchers for you. I’m sure everyone has heard of spanks. It’s that terribly tight long underwear that your mom wears to family gatherings and funerals. It looks awful by itself, and it may remind you of your high school reunion, but it can make a big difference. There are spanks, cinches, and control tops available for your back, stomach, hips and thighs. These are great if you need to smooth out an area or look like you’ve lost a few pounds before the big day. However I can’t stress how important daily exercise and healthy eating are to every aspect of your life, not just cosplay. So if you have the time and motivation before the con to change your body naturally, I would go with that route, and save the spanks for plan B.

But what if you’re already as thin as you’re going to get, but you need a more dramatic silhouette? That’s where the most famous undergarment of all can come in handy: the corset. Corsets were actually our earliest bras, meant to take the weight of our chests off our backs and keep a lady’s spine in alignment. The earliest and most basic corsets did nothing for a woman’s waist. Waist training came about at different times in different cultures, but is now synonymous with the corset. If you’ve never trained your waist before, a corset can compress your waist up to four inches. An especially toned man or woman will likely only see two inches of waist reduction because fat compresses more than muscle. With practice, it is possible to shrink the waist six or even eight inches or more. This is called waist training and is a serious commitment. It involved wearing a corset all day and night, training your body to literally rearrange its organs to develop a smaller waist. I cannot recommend that anyone attempts waist training without some serious research and consideration as the side effects can be quite serious. But don’t worry, shrinking your waist up to four inches for a day or two is not going to cause any permanent harm unless you have a pre-existing condition which makes this activity dangerous. I will caution you though, it only takes three eight hour days in a corset for the stomach muscles to begin to atrophy. This is because you use your abdominals all day to hold yourself upright. When you’re in a corset, your stomach no longer has to do any work, and the muscle begin to get weak and flabby. If you’re going to wear a corset for the weekend, I recommend doing three sets of ten sit-ups at the end of each con-day to keep your abs used to doing some work.

Now that we’ve covered how to shape your body for your cosplay, lets take about how to keep your cosplay in place. We’ve talked about bra strap holders, but what about holding up your tights or gloves? For tights I like to use a garter belt. You can get decorative ones for show on the internet, but sometimes just a practical, comfortable, everyday garter belt from a lingerie boutique is most effective. For gloves and small accessories that like to slip and move around, the brand Hollywood makes a whole range of fashion tapes and garment straps in every shape and size imaginable. Designed to hold up straps, keep necklines in place, heck, they even have straps to keep your pants tucked smoothly into your pants. You can find Hollywood products at a range of department stores, as well as Joann fabrics.

Moving down the body further still, next up is the feet. You may not think that your foot underwear could possibly be that important to the overall look of your cosplay. But let me tell you that after 14 hours in heels, your foot underwear is the MOST important part of your cosplay. Finding the right socks, sole inserts, corn cushions, and heel pads for your shoes will make the biggest difference when its 11pm and you’re still taking pictures and standing in lines. At the very least, I must insist that you pack a few bandaids in your convention pack. If an unexpected blister pops up, or your shoes start cutting your heels at the hundredth hour, you’ll thank me.

Since we’re talking so much about underwear, lets talk about some underwear. You have two options and two options only. Seamless, and a thong. Unless you’re wearing jeans, parachute pants, or a ball-gown, don’t risk anything showing. Stick to nude colors, and keep it tiny and seamless.

This article is almost over, I swear. I just have one last thing to add. You’re undergarments are meant to go under  your costume. In almost every case, we the con-going crowd should not be able to see your bra, spanks, or fashion tape poking out from under your costume. However there are a few cases where undergarments become over-garments, or at least base garments that will be viewable in certain poses or even at all times. These may include a leotard, unitard, or tights. Remember, if we can see it, make sure it looks presentable. You are not, under any circumstances, allowed to wear sheer top or control top nylons if your tush is not covered. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the top of many kinds of tights look different than the rest of the legs. They either have some sort of embellishment or stitch change meant to shape and lift your bottom. If you are cosplaying a ballerina in a tutu. DO NOT WEAR THESE TIGHTS. You need to get yourself some tights made for dance. Dance tights will be the same level of sheerness from top to bottom, and you won’t have to worry about hiding any weird designs or lines from the public. Remember that a convention is still, believe it or not, considered a public place. Therefore if you wouldn’t want your coworkers to see a particular garment, don’t leave it exposed at a convention.

Underwear may not be the flashiest or the biggest part of your cosplay. It may not earn you any compliments and it may not be homemade. But the right underwear does make a difference. It’s the difference between a great cosplay and an amazing cosplayer. It doesn’t make your costume look any better, it makes you look better in your costume.

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Another set of photos from our recent steampunk photo shoot in Bushnell park. 

Again I want to remind everyone of the wind this day. This doorway was quite a place of refuge for us, where the wind could make our eyes water and our noses red a little bit less.

Not sure what I am attempting to do over by this wall here, but it is a cool looking wall, isn’t it?

We also found a lovely fountain to take pictures by which was also period accurate, just like the bridges and walls we are seen with.

Pretend walking around the fountain is harder than it looks. I wasn’t moving here, but I had to position my feet one in front of the other like I was walking like a lady. It gave the wind a much more toppley Shauna to push around. When posing, you always want to elongate and twist your body in seemingly unstable ways. In fact, the more off balance you look, the more dynamic and whimsical that picture will be. In my effort to look off balance, I think I almost fell into that fountain like four times. But my skirt looks awesome, doesn’t it?

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