Monday, 25 August 2014

Lwaxana's dress

In case you haven't been following along I made myself a costume based on Lwaxana Troi's first appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I had so much fun making this dress, and I'm delighted with the outcome. 

The first task was finding a suitable fabric. I didn't want to spend €100 on a one-off dress, so I scoured the fabric shops looking for something suitable. To be honest, I didn't even find much that I wished I could buy but couldn't afford. Next stop, home furnishings. There were a couple of curtain sets that I considered, but the texture was either much too heavy or much too stiff. In the end I found tablecloths that fit the bill pretty nicely (though as you can see from the fall of the train, it's still a bit stiffer than Lwaxana's dress). 

I bought a large rectangular tablecloth, but I wasn't certain I could get the train out of it as well as the rest of the dress, so I bought a circular one too. I was really glad I did, because I was able to use the scalloped edge for the hem (is it a hem, if you don't hem it?) and the circular table cloth meant I had a nice round scalloped edge for the train.

I spent a lot of time getting the bodice right. I made fewer mockups of my wedding dress! I think I got the shape right, but the drape of the fabric is different enough that it sits a little differently. Similarly with the sleeves, I don't think they're actually too long, but Lwaxana's fall more softly.

After a lot of staring at screenshots I concluded that the sleeves on Lwaxana's dress are made of two pieces, sewn top and bottom. This realisation sorted out a niggling issue I was having with the sleeve pattern, because I knew I needed to add slope to the top as well as the bottom.

If I was doing it again I'd make the sleeve holes a little smaller, but they're not terrible. That rope sure did take a lot of hand-sewing to make it sit where I wanted it though. The belt is a separate piece of rope, sewn on from just under the zip up nearly as far as the waist; it's also sewn on for about an inch from the top edge. The rest hangs loose until the zip is closed.

The skirt is amazingly simply constructed, a rectangle on the front, and two rectangles on the back with the train inserted into the back seam. I tried that construction in a mockup because that's what it looked like to me, and I was a bit surprised when it gave exactly the shape I was hoping for. I cut the skirt pieces long enough to fold the top over to make a channel for the waist elastic. I did think to attach the skirt to the bodice before inserting the elastic, but then discovered that the bodice was too long so ended up working with an elasticated waist anyway. It would have made sense to remove the elastic before adjusting, but I didn't, and I suffered for it.

Still, one of my greatest sources of pride in the dress is that waist. I could see from some of the screenshots that her dress is elasticated, and I was delighted when I figured out that combining an elasticated waist with a zip would hold up the skirt and allow the bodice to sit loosely.

The other great source of pride is the train. I wasn't sure how to do a train, and for some reason I didn't go look it up. I had decided to install the zip, and then see how much length was left in the back seam. It was about 32"*; the diameter of the circular tablecloth I had bought was 70". That meant that if I took a semi-circle I'd have 3" extra length at the centre of the train. That seemed like too much to me, and I must have spent an hour on the geometry of circles trying to figure out where to make the cut. In the end I cut it in half, sewed from the bottom edge to near the zip on each side, and added a few neat tucks **. The train only got stood on twice, so if it's too long, it's not by much :)

I'm so delighted with this outfit, and I had brilliant fun wearing it at Shamrokon. If you've ever considered cosplay I'd encourage you to give it a go, and feel free to get in touch if you could use a helping hand (or indeed, the services of a seamstress).

* I am completely in favour of the metric system. I realise that the imperial system makes no sense, but for some reason inches is what I gravitate to when dressmaking.

** Which I somehow managed to not lose my wits over

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Shamrokon photos

I just got back from Shamrokon and I want to post the photos I have of the whole costume. I'll put up a post about how the dress itself was constructed soon.

And for reference:

Not bad eh? What do you think, Lwaxana?

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Lwaxana's jacket

The jacket was actually the first thing I finished. While I was still at a loss for what fabric to use for the dress I found a curtain in a charity shop that looked good for the jacket. It was the wrong colour, but it looked like it might take a dye and be a reasonable approximation.

I don't have a really good photo of it, so this will have to do for the moment.

I'm very pleased with the construction of the jacket, even if the colour isn't quite right, and it's not quite long enough. After careful study of screenshots, I'm pretty confident that this is very similar to the way the original was constructed. If you can't tell, it's a rectangle of fabric with the bottom corners brought up to the side of the neck, then sewn to the top edge from collar to cuff.

Now, I have about a metre and a half of rope to sew on by hand, so I'd better get back to it.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Lwaxana's hair

I have short hair, as I'm sure Majel Barrett had when she first swanned onto the enterprise. Lwaxana, however, has a beautifully arranged wig.

I found a hair piece I could justify the cost of, that was a pretty reasonable approximation of my own hair colour. Having spent a couple of hours arranging it and sewing on a trim, I realised I had split it to the wrong side :(

But you know what? It will do.

I'm actually very please with the effect. It's not exactly the same styling, but I think it captures the spirit of the 'do.

The colour, as I said, was a pretty close match, but when I put it on it looked very "wiggy". I've dyed my hair to more closely match and it's wigging me out a bit (see what I did there?). No-one, not even me, would look at me and think I'd changed my hair colour, but when I put the wig on it looks *much* better. Weird!

You'll have to wait till the costume is done to see it on me though.

Daughter of the fifth house, holder of the sacred chalice of Rixx, heir to the five rings of Betazed!

I have decided to cosplay as Lwaxana Troi for Shamrokon. I am very excited, because I have never been to a con before, and while I have wanted to cosplay since I first heard it was a thing, I've never had a real opportunity before.

I was originally thinking of going as Nausicaa (from the Studio Ghibli film), but I wasn't super comfortable dressing as a young girl. I'll save the notes and fabric I had gathered for that costume for an actual little girl.

I briefly considered a Star Trek uniform but then I realised Lwaxana would be much more fun. She's a brilliant character full of life and flaws and complexity. And her clothes are amazingly bonkers.

I decided to go with her first appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation. A first season episode called Haven (see also the hilarious summary at Fashion It So) . It has a ludicrous plot, and Lwaxana completely steals the show.

I chose the outfit she arrives in, because the one she changes into is a bit less interesting, and the back is completely open, which looks like it might get cold.

I found this pattern (which to be I honest, I kind of suspect was actually cogged from Lwaxana here. Check out the belt and shoulder gaps on the long blue one, and compare to the two screenshots below). It's been useful for inspiration, but I have a little bit of buyer's regret because I've had to alter it so much. It's also forced me to do a mockup of the dress, which goes against my lazy-ass-maker principles.

Making a full costume like this is an expensive business, even though I've made the jacket from a dyed piece of a second hand curtain, and the dress is made of tablecloths. Fake hair, contact lenses, rope for that wonderfully off-the-wall trim. It adds up. I was seriously tempted to buy a suitcase that was a bit like this one, but I have no Mr Homn to carry it, and Lwaxana would never carry her own suitcase.

Screenshots are from the fabulous (except the one of her back, which isn't on trekcore and I had to get from a youtube video).

Stay tuned for photos of the costume.