Monthly Archives: April 2010

Included Seam Allowance: Optional

 I taught myself how to sew from commercial patterns, and then from self-made patterns that imitated the model of the commercial pattern. When I started taking classes in my university’s theatre department, it was from a desire to learn how to do things differently, more efficiently, and more accurately, not to learn how to do them in the first place (needless to say, I didn’t see myself continuing as far as tailoring at the time).

 And I embraced everything I was taught immediately, except for one thing: I held onto the method of including seam allowance in patterns for cosplay. I understood why it made sense for theatre, but I figured that since I was only making the pattern for myself, I could keep doing that much my old way.

 So I noticed when I drafted my last pattern and I didn’t include seam allowance. But I didn’t miss it. Even though it takes longer to add the seam allowance—granted, by about two minutes per piece with a decent $6 transparent ruler—having the seam allowances marked instead of just assumed makes it easier, for me, for the garment to fit exactly as the pattern intends. It also helps with pattern matching (something pretty important for Kuroshitsuji, amongst hundreds of other cosplay), since I can immediately distinguish which sections of the fabric will end up visible and which will be pressed and trimmed out of sight. 

 And when it’s four in the morning before a convention, it’s way easier to pin and sew a straight line when there’s a marked seam allowance telling me exactly where I need to stitch, without having to strain my eyes at those 1/8” notches on the machine.

 Much love,


Product Review: Laughing Moon and Mercantile California Pants

 I bought it here:

 Pros: I liked that they included both women’s and men’s patterns in the same pattern, since that worked best for my purposes. At the time I made the California Pants, I had never made a pair of pants any more complicated than Duo Lon’s yoga/elastic waistband/whatever they were pants, which I can safely say prepared me in no way whatsoever for tackling these. As long as you go patiently—different from going slow—the pattern and directions will see you through very nicely. Also included is a thorough explanation of the trousers in regards to the period, which granted isn’t so much useful as incredibly interesting. I also liked that the directions included some hand-sewing techniques.

 Cons: I don’t have any complaints with the pattern itself, except that I hate commercial tissue paper patterns with a fiery passion. But I understand that it’s the only way to get all of those different sizes into a packet smaller than a shoebox. The only thing keeping me from going back to this pattern again is that after I made them for Animeland Wasabi, I learned how to tailor trousers from the same period but much closer to what Grell would have actually worn, and the process and results weren’t similar at all. When they say ‘California Pants’, they mean it.

Overall: I would recommend this pattern. It’s a great pattern to learn from, and isn’t more challenging than the cut of the garment requires. One thing: the pattern uses buttons in the fly, which is period accurate but kind of annoying for cosplay when you have suspenders and a period shirt as well. I don’t think anyone would begrudge you for switching in a zipper as long as you know that zippers weren’t ‘really’ used until the 1930s or so (then again, if you’re cosplaying Kuroshitsuji like I was, you can just say that zippers were ushered in half a century early along with Ciel’s TV).

 Much love,


Product Review: Laughing Moon Mercantile’s Men’s Victorian and Edwardian Shirts Pattern

 I bought it here:

 Pros: I learned a lot from making this shirt. I learned how to flat-fell a seam, do a narrow hem, and distinguish between many of the collars and cuffs used for different situations in the time period. This pattern is great to keep around, too: apart from including two different largely encompassing styles of shirts, it has the option of a couple of dress fronts, and multiple detachable collars, detachable cuffs, and neckwear (though Grell’s bow was somehow mysteriously not included. Can’t imagine why.)

 Cons: This is a men’s pattern, so the smallest size dusted my knees when I held up the pattern piece. Shorten carefully; the yoke made the shirt shorter than I planned (but thankfully not too short). Count the stud quantities carefully as well: I ended up with one short without time to order another one.

 Overall: I would recommend this pattern to someone else. It took less time from start to finish than I thought and while I had to look up a few terms, I take that to be lack of knowledge on my part. A machine that does buttonholes will really make this process easier: handworked buttonholes get a bit tiring after about fourteen or so.

 Much love,


Wig-Styling Paralysis

 About a week and a half ago, I took out my wig that will eventually be Fang’s, put it on my head, stared at it, and put it away again. For some reason, of all the styles I’ve done before, Fang’s I-don’t-believe-in-hairbrushes-ever style is the one that scares the heck out of me.

I ordered this one in Espresso, and I have some loose dark brown wefts at home.

I feel like with Fang’s wig, the most important thing to do is to get started, but I can’t even do that.  I don’t get it. But it left me with a thought: what is styling a wig versus messing it up? It depends on if you’re doing it on purpose or not!

Much love,


Drafting a Pattern: An Alternative Method

Over Spring Break, I attempted to draft the Capricious Reaper’s skirt. Since the skirt looks like it’s supposed to be created from crystal facets and my only references were on my tiny PSP screen, paper didn’t work so well for being able to create the whole picture. I did this instead:

First, I laid out one of my measuring tapes and yarn in a grid (the yarn gets pinned straight into the carpet), and then outlined the borders of the skirt. Then I stared at my tiny little PSP  screen for about three hours and pinned everything out. It mirrors, so now that the whole skirt is laid out, I think the next step will be to transfer the individual facets to pattern paper, and keep this around for reference while making the skirt.

Ever have to do anything out of the ordinary to get a pattern drafted?

Much love,


The Lining That Wasn’t Meant to Be

 There’s a certain lack of progress going on with my vest for Romance Collection Grell. It should be quick because it doesn’t have pockets or a collar. Because it doesn’t have a collar, it can’t double as his standard manga vest. But quite honestly I wouldn’t mind making another vest after this one.

 Maybe I would use the fabric again just because I have enough scraps to make another vest, but not this lining again. Not this lining again if you paid me. Total waste of a 50% off coupon, which is a crime this close to A-kon.

 I’ve dealt with some pretty uncooperative lining (so I know how to treat lining, press cloths and lowest heat possible and everything else) but this just beats out every other candidate for most hated lining ever. Beats it out by a mile.

I would do a formal pros/cons review, but the only pro was that the color went nicely with the vest fabric. It’s currently sold at Joanns for $8.99 a yard, and has this running along the selvage edge. Don’t do it.

 Much love,


Budget, Quality, Time

It’s getting to be that time of year where I stop caring whether my tea is decaf or not. I have a ton of things to do outside of cosplay, and when it comes to cosplay, I’m getting close to the one month mark before my cosplay planned for A-kon need to be completed and ready to go.

 I took a break to do two things: to revise something I wrote for the new Cosplay in America site (go check it out!) and to draft a supplies list for Capricious Reaper.

 Wool felt, CR palette ~1/4 yd.

450 individual…leaves? Fronds? Whatever they are. 6-10 in.

1 small can white spray paint

1 small can lavender spray paint

1 small can black spray paint

1-2 cans violet spray paint

7 bags tiny mirror tiles, varied sizes and shapes

5 bottles cheapest drug store nail polish you can find CR palette

Twice as many beads as you already have

2/3 that amount in flat-backed acrylic crystals (clear, violet)

 That’s just a portion of it. But as you can see, it’s not exactly a grocery list, the kind that you’d send someone else to go purchase and expect to get exactly what you wanted back (what, you didn’t read my mind all the way from the Michaels on Westheimer? Seriously.)  

 I have a monetary budget and a time budget that I keep in mind, and they fight with the perfectionist in me all the time. This way, each item is prioritized in terms of those three. For some, it’s most important that I get them as soon as possible; for others, quantity and price are most important. This part of the list doesn’t have too many of the items that had to be exactly perfect, but there’s a reason for that—I started looking for them months ago to allow time for the money side of priorities to have some attention. Shopping on a budget shouldn’t have to make a cosplayer totally compromise on quality!

 Much love,