Monday, May 20, 2013

White Queen AAR - Lessons Learned and Next Steps

Writing a few quick after event thoughts (what the DoD calls an AAR for After Action Report) while they're still fresh in my head on what worked, what didn't work, and why.

1.  Need new boots!  The shoes I had, while barely seen under the spats, were just some cheap Mary Jane heels I'd picked up around Halloween for $15 on eBay.  Great look, but definitely NOT made for 10-12 hours or more on your feet.  These need to go!  Already found a pair of vintage white leather ankle-length laceup boots on eBay, so that's resolved.  Of course, this will also mean I need to trim or sew new spats...

2.  Web Cloak worked brilliantly.  I wasn't sure about the spider-web type fabric and how it would look - up until this weekend, I'd used a more basic white linen that breathes and drapes well.  Spider web fabric was a royal pain in the white backside to work with, but really looked beautiful.  So that was clearly a win.  The main danger here is that it tends to catch on things very easily - ratchets, canes, car doors, pretty much anything that sticks out even a little bit.  Still worth it though.

3.  Corset needs to be lined.  Up side to beautiful handmade corset - looked amazing and gave me plenty of support throughout the entire day and well into the night.  I know a lot of people ask me if corsets are uncomfortable, and I always reply that if it's designed well and fits you properly, it's very comfortable.  The problem most folks have is wearing a poorly fitted corset.  In this case, the fit was dead on, but the hand-stitching of the grey applique wound up rubbing on my skin and by about 9pm, my skin was feeling pretty raw around the appliqued parts.  I think I'm going to take some felt and just bind that with rubber cement to the corset, to prevent future rubbing and cover over the seamed areas.  Alternate plan is to get some sort of waist cincher or Spankx just to wear around my waist under the corset, but I think the felt is a better long-term plan.

4.  Develop a cool weather version of cloak/coat.  Again, really pleased with my existing cloak - but because it's so open (and one of the only pieces that's synthetic rather than a natural fiber), it won't retain heat worth a fig.  By the fall, I'm hoping to make a wool coat version like this, to capture both the Steampunk flavor and also provide more warmth.  The trick here is going to be finding a white wool that's as close to true white as possible....wool in particular tends to run very warm/ivory, like the fox fur in v1.  For the design, I'll be copying the Emmeline Frost coat in Earth-889 of the X-Society version of X-Men, as shown below.

Emmeline Frost and the X-Society from a Steampunk alternate universe called Earth-889.
Next step is clearly sewing Ian one of the other outfits.

5.  Sew the long skirt from the Earth-889 picture above.  This clearly calls for dupioni silk.  Added bonus, if I ever get bored with doing the White Queen at costume cons, it will also double perfectly as a Mystique skirt.

6.  Boffin-ize Emma.  By next year, I'm hoping to have a secondary version of the White Queen, keeping some elements but adding in others for differentiation.  I've been a big fan of the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, and one of the more interesting characters is Dr. Emma Nora Darwin Barlow, a geneticist and (fictitious) granddaughter of Charles Darwin.  She's known for being a brilliant scientist, fluent in multiple languages, and always impeccably dressed with a black bowler hat.  Ever since my husband bought me the first book in the series, I've wanted to do some sort of version of Nora Barlow and just never got around to it.  This is a perfect costume melding for me of two characters I love - Emma Frost, and Nora Barlow (who oddly enough is *also* an Emma - never knew that until today!).  So by next year, I want to incorporate:

  • a long white walking skirt, likely wool or cotton twill.  Possibly with a mermaid tail, verdict is still out.
  • a white felt bowler, which I will try making my own from boiled white wool felt using the instructions here.
  • a pair of white goggles - again, going to see about making these, but plenty of suppliers if I can't figure it out.  Worst case, I can get a pair of cheap plastic ones and dry-brush them white and silver.
  • a silver and white walking cane.  Plan is to find some stainless steel plumbing pipe, a nice crystal or white enamel doorknob, and some epoxy - if it works out, I'll post pictures and instructions.
7.  Sew a formal/ball-appropriate skirt.  The short version is perfect for the day, but I'd love to do a really fantastic, full-skirted affair for evening wear.

8.  Wig?  I've been very on the fence about getting a long blonde wig.  I am blonde in the world of reals, though not quite as blonde as Emma - more medium to dark blonde than pale.  On the one hand, it would certainly help cement the look.  On the other hand, good wigs are *very* pricey, and cheap wigs look tacky and I find them a bigger distraction than compliment to most outfits.  Plus, I'm not sure my coloring is cool or fair enough to pull off the pale blonde.  So still mulling this one over...

9. Insanity time.  Once I finish everything else, and decide to well and truly take leave of my senses - I want to make the Lulu skirt, (outfit?), though in white and grey.  Already have the corset, the overdress is very straightforward and I could sew that easily enough, white stockings are readily it's just finding white and grey leather to make the buckle skirt.  Easy, right?  /cues famous last words

Someday, I will do this.  Someday...

Because sanity is *clearly* over-rated, and what could possibly go wrong sewing an entire skirt out of nothing but leather straps and buckles???

The more likely result of me wearing something white and with buckles if I try the Lulu skirt...
Anyway, for any costumers or steampunk fans out there, please feel free to offer suggestions, post your own costuming sites or tips and tricks, or whatever!  One of the best parts of the community is the modding and collaborative nature of it, so I love learning what other people have tried, what worked, what didn't, and comparing notes.  Thanks!

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