Link’s Tunic

My eldest daughter’s birthday is coming up, so I wanted to make her something extra-special as a gift. When we went to ComicCon this year, Thing 1 kept spotting foam replicas of Link’s Master Sword (from The Legend of Zelda series) out on the sales floor, and she asked me if she could have one every time she found one. My response was that it was too expensive; I had given the girls a budget of $20 each to buy something, and the swords usually came in between $30 and $35. Instead she came away from the con with a chain necklace with a pendant shaped like a Golden Snitch, which also lit up from inside with a tiny LED, and she seemed quite satisfied.

However, I had two days at the con without the kids along, and in my browsing I managed to find a competitively-priced Master Sword, along with a cheap plastic Hylian Shield. I stashed the sword and shield away for a few months to save them for her birthday. But I also figured that I could take the gift up a notch and make her a play costume to go along with the pre-made items.


McCall’s M6224

To me, a play costume is one that I don’t spend a huge amount of time or money on because there’s a good chance it won’t last all that long, since my kids are allowed to wear play costumes whenever they want and to do whatever they want in them. This is why most of their play costumes are second-hand finds, hand-me-downs, or bought on the 90%-off sales after Halloween. To that end, I used McCall’s pattern M6224, which I already had in my stash from ages ago. (Although I didn’t use this specific pattern to make the girls’ ComicCon costumes this year, I should note that one-piece pajama patterns are great to adapt into costumes.)


Cutting the pattern.

This time I didn’t use the one-piece pajamas and instead went for option C, which is a short-sleeved pajama top reminiscent of the scrubs one would wear for working in a hospital. I lengthened the top a bit to make it more of a tunic than a shirt, which will eventually be belted into place. I used fabric from my stash as well, which was the remnants of a dark green sheet that I’d used parts of for some craft or other years ago.

As the pattern envelope promised, the pattern was really easy to make. I think it only took me about two hours from unpacking the pattern to ironing the final product. Now, it looks a little big to me, but pajamas and tunics both are meant to fit loosely, and anyway it will be belted in. If worst comes to worst, I can always take it in. Strangely, my biggest worry is that the neck hole may not be large enough; the fabric has absolutely no stretch whatsoever, and Thing 2 has a massive noggin, just like both of her parents.

Die-hard Zelda fans probably are looking at the tunic and thinking, “Isn’t that supposed to have lacing, and a collar?” Yes, I suppose it is, if I was going for true accuracy. I kind of went for a look between adult Link in Ocarina of Time (what with the length of the sleeves, not to mention the sword and shield) and Four Swords Link (with the V-neck tunic). As much as I love 100% accurate costumes, I didn’t think it was necessary to play dress-up at home. Also, generally the more accurate the costume, the more time and money it takes, neither of which I wanted to spend on something that would probably get food and dirt smeared all over it.

The next step is to get a belt and a long-sleeved shirt to go underneath, as well as to make Link’s cap. Hopefully I’ll get it all done in time!

Curtains

I have a pet peeve — and it’s not a tiny creature that sits around chewing with its mouth open. This time of year, it gets very hot around here, accompanied by high humidity. It hit 32°C (89.6°F) here yesterday, with a humidex of 38°C (100.4°F). That’s pretty hot no matter where you’re from, but around here our summers are short enough that we don’t truly get a chance to adjust to the heat. And yet, on days where the Weather Network is broadcasting heat warnings, I know people who sit in their air-conditioned homes and complain about the heat — despite the fact that they are sitting in a sun-bathed room. Put up some curtains already! You will be more comfortable, your energy bill won’t be so high, and you’re putting less strain on the environment. As a side bonus, in the winter those same curtains will once again help keep your energy costs down as they will help reduce drafts.


My kitchen table with the curtains open.

Now, I’m not talking about people who have legitimate financial, physical, or mental issues that preclude them putting up curtains. However, in my experience, the people who are in the direst financial straights are also the people who, out of necessity, will cut their utility bills any way they can — air conditioning is a luxury, after all. To beat the heat, many people will hang sheets or blankets over their windows with tacks. Sometimes people build improvised shutters out of flattened cardboard boxes. These may not be the prettiest solutions, but they are effective. Or, if a little money can be budgeted, it’s possible to shop around until the perfect curtains are found on clearance at 90% off. Learning to sew homemade curtains is also an option, not that much sewing has been necessary since the invention of iron-on hemming strips and curtain rings with clips.

No, what I’m talking about is people who should know better, and who have no impediments to putting up proper curtains, but choose not to and then whine that their summer cooling bill is so high.


My kitchen table with the curtains closed.

As I mentioned, yesterday was one of the first scorchers of the year here, and of course that’s when my A/C broke down. We managed to keep our house at an acceptable temperature by opening up the windows at night and in the early morning, then closing both our windows and our curtains up tight for the heat of the day. By sunset, the house had warmed up somewhat, but we were only on the verge of “uncomfortable” — whereas outside it was “too hot to freaking move”. I credit that partially due to the fact that we have decent insulation in the walls (just standard, relatively-modern stuff to protect us from Canadian winters), and our curtains on the sunniest windows of the house being lined with blackout fabric.


My kitchen table with the curtains closed, after adding blackout lining.

To illustrate this, I took photos of my kitchen with plain curtains open, plain curtains closed, and curtains closed with blackout lining added. All photos were taken within a ten-minute span, and the curtains were all white Merete curtains by IKEA — which I love as they open/close easily and are opaque enough for privacy’s sake. The lining used in the bottom picture was heavyweight stuff purchased at Fabricland some years ago. I didn’t change the exposure on my camera so that it’s possible to compare the difference between the light let in by the lined and unlined curtains.

Curtains lined with blackout fabric (or with an opaque coating on the back of the main fabric) have become really affordable over the last ten years or so, as has the heavy-duty drapery hardware that it takes to support thicker curtains. It’s even possible to sew an old curtain to the back of a new one to maximize light blockage and prevent the fabric from fading. Or there’s always the sheet/blanket/cardboard options. If you don’t like “living in a cave”, as some have complained to me about dark rooms, you can only open the curtains in the room you’re currently in, kind of like a reverse-Nicole-Kidman in The Others. So to me, if you choose not to put up or close curtains, it seems an act of artificial helplessness to bemoan how hot it is and how high your home cooling costs have become, or that your brand new air conditioner isn’t performing nearly as well as promised. Wouldn’t it be better to take a stab at mitigating the problem rather than complaining?

One Week Until ComicCon

Only one week until ComicCon, and I have been working my tail off to (hopefully) get things done in time. Sorry for the low quality cell phone pictures, but I haven’t had the time to take anything nicer.

I completed the blue bodysuit for Thing 1’s costume.

I hand-stitched Thing 2’s fun fur tail; this kind of fur tends to clog up the machine, so I worked the old-fashioned way. I also remembered why I hate working with fun fur. It sheds everywhere! You’d think I owned a golden retriever.

I made and painted a backpack, which was the last piece I needed for my day 1 costume. Hopefully it will be both practical and costume-friendly.

I built the framework for my Day 2 costume, found a foam head for it, paper-machéd the head, and painted it.

And I also wired up the skeleton head so that the eyes glow.

I really, really hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew, and that I’ll have all the costumes done in time!

Three Weeks Until ComicCon

There are three weeks exactly until Ottawa ComicCon, and I am starting to panic. I am a cosplayer, and the costumes I’m hoping to complete have barely been started. The next twenty one days are going to be crammed with sewing and building, in addition to the usual cooking.

To give you an idea of the kind of costumes that I make, I have put together photographs of what I consider to be my best Con costume work. I have been attending since the first Ottawa con in 2012, and I generally wear a different costume every day. Not only that, but when I bring the kids, I make costumes for them as well. So that’s five costumes I have to have ready in three weeks. I have nobody to blame for this tight deadline except myself… And that dratted cold that ate up pretty much all of last week.

The photos start with the most recent, and progress to the oldest. All costumes made by me unless otherwise specified.


Clawhauser (me), Judy Hopps (Thing 2), Gazelle (Thing 1) and Bellwether (Mom, who made her own costume) from Zootopia.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Thing 2 as Judy Hopps from Zootopia.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Thing 1 as Gazelle from Zootopia.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Me as Edna Mode from The Incredibles.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Me as April O’Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Astrid (Thing 1) and Stormfly (me) from How To Train Your Dragon.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Ruffnut (Kelsey Joustra), Tuffnut (Adam Joustra), and Stormfly (me) from How To Train Your Dragon. Kelsey and Adam made their own costumes.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Thing 1 as Astrid from How To Train Your Dragon.


Thing 2 as Hiccup from How To Train Your Dragon.


Me as Pyro from Team Fortress 2.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Pyro (me), Heavy (Ian Walton), and Sniper (Karen Turnbull) from Team Fortress 2. Ian and Karen made their own costumes.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Gru (me) and a Minion (Thing 1) from Despicable Me.
Photo by Richard Dufault Photography


Thor (Thing 1) and Frigga (me) from Thor. The Thor costume is store bought.


Me as The Penguin from Batman.
Photo by Karen Turnbull.


Thing 2 as Harley Quinn from Batman.