It Has Begun!

Today is the vernal equinox and first day of spring, which is encouraging for those of us who like to garden despite the fact that it still looks like winter outside. However, it has been peeking above freezing off and on for the last week, and things are finally starting to melt a bit. While my driveway is still a skating rink, I can finally see a bit of the back deck close to the house.

I find myself rather envious of the people further south (or back in Madrid) where spring flowers are already pushing out of the ground and fruit blossoms are covering the trees. Ah well, our time will soon come!

With the seasonal change comes the reminder that Ottawa ComicCon is only 50 days away — and I have to get cracking on costumes! Yesterday I popped out to purchase some fabric, although I haven’t found all of what I will need yet. (Today it’s all in the washer being pre-shrunk.) The purple and white fabric will mostly become Vio from The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures for Thing 1. I also need to purchase fabric for our other family costumes: Thing 2’s Sheik from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and my Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. For group costumes on the weekend I also need to make a R.O.U.S. costume from The Princess Bride (I’m hoping to find a kigurumi pattern that I can modify) and a 1950’s version of Marrow from the X-Men comics. Over the weekend I also plan on wearing my Men in Tights costume again, which is the only one I don’t have to make this year. So that’s a total of five costumes I still have to sew, but at least there are no big builds this year?

Ottawa ComicCon 2013: Frigga and Thor

A reader named Anna contacted me about the Frigga costume I made for Ottawa ComicCon way back in 2013, wondering what pattern I’d used and adaptations I’d made. I originally posted about it back in my LiveJournal days, so I had to search around a bit for the old text and photos. But here it is, what little I wrote down. I hope it helps Anna, as well as anybody else who intends to dress up as Frigga in the future!


The costumes in question: me as Frigga and Thing 1 as Thor. It was Thing 1’s first Con.
Photo by Karen Turnbull.

“As of about four days before Ottawa ComicCon, my Frigga costume (from the 2011 movie Thor) still looked like this:

Um, whoops. In my defense, my house is still up for sale and I didn’t want to create a massive crafting mess in anticipation of showings. However, things got down to the wire on the Monday (I planned to wear the costume that Friday), and I started getting things ready, showings or no showings. Fabric, check. Notions, check. Pattern, check. Sewing machine… Crap, where did I put it?

After going through every closet and the disaster that is my garage/main storage, it turns out that I’d given it back to my mom while I was showing the house (mine needs repairs). Which I discovered Monday night, too late to do anything about it. I picked up the machine Tuesday morning and started on the costume during Thing 2’s nap time that day.

Here are the photos I was using for reference:


Screen shots from Thor (2011) © Paramount Pictures; used under fair use laws.

And here’s what the costume looked like for ComicCon, the morning after finishing it up at 2:00am:


Photo by Karen Turnbull.

Okay, mine is not a perfect replica, but it’s not bad considering I only spent about $35.00CAD on it. The dress is based on Simplicity 1773 pattern, which is definitely more Snow White and the Huntsman than Thor. I added two panels to the front (duplicates of the back panels, actually), made the sleeves a bit looser (the fabric I was using — light grey polyester suiting with silver thread — had absolutely no give and I needed to be able to use my arms), and added to the collar to change it from square to circular. The collar is machine-quilted and, if I have time, I think I’m going to add some cheap texture and sparkle to it before Halloween with some silver puff paint.”

Note from the future: I never did get around to doing that. The dress stayed as you see here.

“Oh yeah, and the hair? Mine. My mom put it up for me in rags the night before the con and I styled it the day of. And yes, I did have people who knew who I was supposed to be. Not many, granted, but some of that was just because I was dressed as a supporting character.


Photo by Karen Turnbull.

Yes, that is Thing 1 as tiny Thor. Her costume is a WalMart Halloween costume I bought for her tickle trunk on clearance after the holiday last year, but she insisted that it was the costume she wanted to wear to the con. I even suggested she go as Brave’s Merida again:

And I’d go as Queen Elinor, but she refused.Given the option to pretend to be a super hero or a princess, she chose a super hero. I don’t blame her, really, except that Merida is by far my favourite Disney princess.

Thing 1 was a little shy at first, ComicCon being a big place filled with lots of strange adults, but she got into it pretty quickly. When talking with her uncle about the con, she summed it up as, “And I saw Batman and a Storm Trooper and R2D2 and Spider-Man and everyone kept taking my picture because I am adorable.” Yes, people kept telling her that and asking to take her picture.


Photo by Karen Turnbull.

Thing 1 actually hid in the outer layer of my skirts for a bit while we waited our turn (at her insistence) to have our photos taken in the 1960’s Batmobile. This is one of the few shots where you can see that yes, the fabric of my dress isn’t just gray, it’s shot with silver sparkles.”

Despite all of my hard work, it was Thing 1 that ended up in the online edition of the newspaper that year, in her clearance-section Walmart costume. Ah well, it just goes to show that the provenance of your costume doesn’t really matter, so long as you’re having fun cosplaying. Also, when you’re four years old, you’re inherently much cuter than any adult and hence bound to steal the spotlight.

Disney Princess/Star Wars Mash-Up Photos

I remain astounded by this, but I managed to finish the costumes for Thing 1 and Thing 2 in time for Ottawa Comiccon: Holiday Edition this past Sunday. The costumes were supposed to coordinate with last year’s Frozen/Star Wars Mash-Up so that my friends and I didn’t have to make new costumes. So may I present to you:

Thing 2 as Jedi Tinkerbell! I made her robe using McCall’s M6184: Children’s/Boys’/Girls’ Karate and Scrubs Costumes, but I used green broadcloth as the fabric. I also added two tabards and an obi/sash, which were basically tubes of fabric turned inside out and sewn closed at the end. The tights were Mondor dance tights that I purchased at a steep discount at the Audrey’s Costume Castle fire sale; the wings were from Value Village Halloween stock. I re-used the boots from Thing 1’s Astrid costume, and stuck pompoms on the toes with hot glue. The sparkly pink belt was from the kids’ wardrobe. Oh, and the knockoff “space swords” were cheapies from Walmart.

Thing 1 as Jedi Ariel! Her robe was made using a larger size of the same pattern as Tinkerbell, but in different colours of broadcloth; the tabards and obi were also made the same way as the first costume. I ordered the mermaid scale leggings off of Amazon since I couldn’t find any the right colour in town, and I was extremely lucky when they arrived this past Friday despite the postal strikes (the very last day they could have been in time). The half boots were from Joe on clearance, and the belt came from the kids’ closets. The wig was an inexpensive one from the Walmart Halloween section, and it was the only part of the costume that I was really disappointed with. It didn’t come out of the package looking anything like the picture on the front. Despite trying to style it to look Jedi-ish, it continued to look extremely cheap. I pinned it in about a million spots and it still wouldn’t stay looking halfway decent. I think Thing 1 only wore it for an hour before she gave up on it, and I honestly don’t blame her. Her real hair looked much better anyway.

So here was our Disney Princess Jedi group for this mini con: Tinkerbell, Anna, Ariel, and Elsa. I’m hoping that we can convince more people to join us next year for a group cosplay! It was a lot of fun and the kids especially enjoyed a very enthusiastic reception.

I also took the opportunity at the con to have one of my fave local artists, Emily Griggs of Sweet Ingenuity, do sketches of my girls in their costumes. I almost invariably buy something at her booth at every con I see her at, since her art is so much fun! I was really glad she was taking commissions at this con and had the time to draw my kids. I gotta say, they couldn’t have been more thrilled to see themselves in cartoon form. This art will take pride of place on my wall.

My only regret about this con is that we forgot to go and get pictures outside in the snow! Oh well, we’ll just have to schedule a photo shoot sometime.

Ottawa Comiccon: Holiday Edition Costumes

I was planning on going to Ottawa Comiccon: Holiday Edition this weekend, and of course since I’ll take any excuse to wear a costume, I’ll be dressing up. This year I’ll be bringing the kids along, and they have asked to dress up too! I was really hoping to get us all into coordinating costumes, but as of right now theirs kind of look like this:

Really, I only have 1.25 robes left to make and some accessories, but it still feels like so much! I was pretty lucky that I was able to find most of the elements of the costumes around Halloween — some of the parts were even highly discounted on the after sales. The plan is to work with the Anna Jedi costume that I wore last year. I think I can, I think I can…

The Nightmare Before Christmas Garage

Halloween is all over but for the consumption of vast quantities of candy. Due to rainy weather, we didn’t get as many trick-or-treaters as I thought we would this year, so we have boxes of full-sized candy bars on top of what the kids accumulated. I think I’m going to have to Google “things to make with leftover Halloween candy”.

Of course, after Halloween there’s also lots of cleaning up and packing away to do, but before I get to that I’d like to share my favourite part of this year’s decorations: the Nightmare Before Christmas garage.

You see, this year marks the 25th anniversary of one of my favourite movies (and Thing 2’s all-time fave so far), The Nightmare Before Christmas. I thought that part of my outdoor decor should definitely reflect this fact. I purchased the little Jack Skellington inflatable on the right, and the larger one on the left was a generous gift from a friend. I made the Oogie Boogie “moon” light cover out of a plastic platter, a black Bristol board cut-out, and a yellow light bulb. The “hill” on the garage door was just more Bristol board taped on and cut out in the desired shape, with breaks and slight overlaps between the panels so I could still open and close the door. Honestly, it wasn’t terribly difficult, but I was really happy with it all in all.

As for actual costumes the day of, I wore my Robin Hood: Men in Tights costume during the day, and my Discworld Death to take my kids trick-or-treating at night. Death was very well received by most, although he did frighten a few little ones (he’s enormous, after all). I really did enjoy chasing the teenagers. The kids wore their Borderlands 2 costumes, and they were thrilled when a few people even knew who they were supposed to be.

I’d say that it was a pretty great Halloween.

Heroes & Villains: Strange Magic Edition

This past Saturday I braved the first snowstorm of the year in order to attend the Heroes & Villains Halloween cosplay party that’s held every year at The Bourbon Room. It’s a whole lot of fun! This year’s theme was “strange magic”, and keeping with the theme the hosts were decked out as the house founders from Harry Potter, the DJ was dressed up as a gorgon, the decor featured dragons and floating candles, and the specialty drinks were straight out of Hogwarts.

Of course I had to get my cosplay on! (As captured poorly here with the selfie feature on my camera.) After all of the effort of making five costumes in time for Ottawa ComicCon (of which I still haven’t posted all of my photos, gotta get on that, really), I just thought I’d reuse something I’d worn before. Then I made the mistake of going to the Audrey’s Costume Castle fire sale the prior weekend, where I found a fabulous wig… And, well, I threw together a fairy godmother costume to go with the theme.

I knew that there would be black lights there, so I used some black-light-reactive face paint for highlights. I didn’t realize until after I got there that parts of the wig would light up too. Not truly visible in these shots are the twinkly fiber optic lights that were tucked under my hair, which showed really well in the low light.

One of the great things about this party is that included with admission is a couple of professional shots taken by the fantastic Richard Dufault of Open Shutter Photo! He got some great shots of the costume in better lighting.

I’m never sure how to pose for these things, but I think they turned out okay! Also, I wish I’d noticed that my necklace was tangled in my wig and hanging funny. Ah, well. It was actually a really comfortable costume and I might actually wear it again. As a bonus, there was no sewing this time!

I based the makeup very loosely on Charisma Star’s tutorial, mainly for the shape of the final layers of paint. I went with a totally different colour scheme and I used different products. I rather liked how it turned out, even if you can’t see that the makeup actually goes all the way down over my shoulders and a bit down my chest. If I’d realized that the wig blocked so much of that area, I wouldn’t have put so much effort into it. Live and learn!

Ottawa Comicon 2018 Friday Pro Pics

As we do every year, we went to Richard Dufault‘s booth and had him take professional pictures of us in our costumes. As such, all the photos in this post are his work — and, as always, they are great!

Our Friday cosplay was from the video game Borderlands 2, which my husband and I play and, after Thing 1 watched us play for a while over our shoulders, we decided she could play along with us. Thing 2 is much too young for said game play (she’s really more on a Terraria level at this point), but she has watched over her big sister’s shoulder as she plays and had to get in on the fun.

My mother joined in on this cosplay even though she doesn’t play the game, and she went as a pretty darned good Scooter, and NPC who is the son of Mad Moxxi and Jimbo Hodunk, brother of Ellie. She made most of her costume, although my father made her armour and wrench out of foam.

I went as the player character Gaige the Mechromancer, although you might note if you look at the reference photos that there are some liberties taken with the costume. One of the great things about this game are the skins (alternate colour schemes) and heads (exactly what it sounds like) that you can earn throughout the game to customize your character. I chose the Grease Monkey head and Horrible Religion skin. As for the fact that I’m missing a few accessories… Well, I ran out of time. I was pretty proud of the fact that I made my first ever foam armour in the shape of a prosthetic metal arm, though. It’s not perfect, but not bad for a first go! And I am wearing a wrench on one ankle in a holster, and a hammer at my back in a belt pouch… But of course you can’t see that in these pictures, because I was trying to show off my “arm”.

Thing 1 went as the player character Maya, the Siren. The reason she’s holding her hand with the “tattoos” the way she is is that she’s supposed to be summoning kind of a lightning ball or a force bubble, which is a physical manifestation of her Siren power. (Trust me, it makes sense in the game.) That’ll have to be edited in at a later date. As with my costume, Thing 1 got to choose the skin and head, so she’s wearing the Professor of Pain head and the Light Urple skin. I chose to kind of de-sexify this costume a bit, i.e. remove the “boob window”, since Thing 1’s only a kid and I didn’t think it appropriate at her young age.

Last but not least, Thing 2 went as Tiny Tina. Yes, purists will notice that there are a few accessories missing, but I challenge you to keep a myriad of props attached to an excited six-year-old… I didn’t even try, and went with a simplified version. The only real impracticality of the costume she did end up with was the mask on the side of the head, which kept having to be readjusted. Thing 2 really liked being able to pose in silly ways and still stay in character, since Tiny Tina is actually a child in the game — and a demolitions expert. Trust me, it makes sense in context.

These were probably the most difficult and time-consuming costumes for the con, partially because I had to make three of them, partially because I had to work with stretch fabrics, and partially because the game puts so many tiny details into their character design! I do take comfort in the fact that we plan on wearing the costumes again for Halloween — provided that the girls don’t grow too much.