Costuming, Public Appearances, Sewing Projects

A Long Overdue Update

A lot has changed in my life since the last time I posted, and while I normally wouldn’t go this into detail about my personal life on a blog about sewing and costuming, I feel like I owe some sort of explanation for not having written anything in months.

Shortly after my last entry, my life was turned upside down. I had been working from home for a few months trying to make sewing and costuming my full time job, and had actually landed a pretty decent contract. All of my materials had arrived, and then suddenly I was getting a divorce and possibly moving from BC back home to Ontario with my family before I’d even cut anything out. Things were difficult for a while; I made it through the sewing contract and got everything turned in on time (just barely.. as in 7am the day they were due by 11am!), and I started a new full time job that same day.

At the risk of oversharing, I admit that the divorce itself was the biggest challenge I’ve ever had to face in my life. It was terrible timing (is there ever a right time for a divorce?), I didn’t know how I was going to start over or put myself back together. It took time, and a lot of learning about things that had happened during the marriage that I wasn’t aware of that helped me move forward, and I’m happy to say that I made it through okay.

With getting back into the regular workforce and putting my life back together I haven’t had as much time for sewing as I used to. I’ve made a few things here and there with fabric I had laying around the apartment – a Poison Ivy costume, a dress, and I’ve been gradually working on a leather jacket when I’ve had the time. Things seem to have settled into a routine now and I’m hoping I can get into more sewing projects before the year is out. Unfortunately the crappy Canadian dollar has put a limit on what I can do; usually I order my supplies online as it’s insanely cheaper, but with the poor exchange rate it’s not quite the same anymore.

With that said, my posts may be less frequent than they used to, but I will do my best to keep updating. My new job is wonderful but as it’s been quite a while since I worked full time hours away from home it feels like it’s taken over all of my free time. I’ve been trying to get back into doing birthday parties when I can; I really miss playing Elsa regularly but it’s a challenge to balance work and hobbies.

I do have some photos to share of the Poison Ivy costume as well as the dress to keep this blog going until I have something new. 🙂

Costuming, Disney Princess Series, Public Appearances

Queen Elsa visited Whistler Blackcomb

February was a very busy month! In addition to princess birthday party appearances as The Snow Queen I had the opportunity to volunteer in my Elsa cosplay for The Mustard Seed’s Coldest Night of the Year walk. The Mustard Seed is a local organization that acts as a street church, food bank, family counselling centre and an addictions recovery centre, all supporting Victoria’s vulnerable populations. The walk itself took place all across Canada while fundraising for the hungry, homeless and hurting. Marty the Marmot (the Victoria Royals hockey team mascot, and a good friend!) and the Superheroes of Victoria were attending the event, so I sent off a couple emails to be able to join. In Victoria we raised $17,000, and I’m very proud to have been able to help at this event.

 

A few days before The Coldest Night of the Year walk, I was visiting friends in Vancouver and took a day trip up to Whistler with my good friend (and absolutely phenomenal photographer) Mark Klotz. We’ve been discussing a snowy Elsa photoshoot since I started making my first Elsa costume, but given that where we live is not often snowy, it’s been a challenge. After I finished Elsa 2.0, I finally felt like it was worth a photoshoot, and after realizing the North Shore mountains were severely lacking in snow, we opted to take the 90 minute drive up to Whistler. After all, I’d already taken a ferry to get to the mainland, what was a little bit of a drive on top of that? It really became a go big or go home scenario, so after loading up on Tim Hortons we ventured up to Whistler.

It was an amazing and fun day, and one hell of a ridiculous experience. I wore my wig and makeup throughout the village and up the village gondola, and put my costume on in the lodge when we got up to the top of Whistler mountain.

And of course, all hell broke loose. A crowd started forming, people were staying a little bit away from us because they were incredibly confused . Who wouldn’t be? Disney royalty shows up at the top of a ski resort’s most popular mountain, not wearing skis, well.. I’d be confused too! A few people came up to ask for pictures and then we ventured outside into the snow. That’s where the crowds really started. If you’ve ever been to the top of Whistler, there’s the big Olympic rings and a giant Canadian flag. I ended up in front of that flag for a good 15 minutes just non stop taking pictures with people. It gave Mark a chance to adjust his camera for the snow so it all worked out, but it was pretty funny. We had some great funny moments while shooting; I missed it but Mark swears that while he was taking photos a guy was coming down the mountain behind me and ended up wiping out when he saw me. No matter where we stopped for our own photos I was taking more with others; it was so much fun and so many people were entertained. I even got to jump on a snowmobile!

After a couple hours worth of photos on Whistler we took the Peak 2 Peak gondola to Blackcomb mountain, and the shots we got there were just magical. It’s ridiculous really, we were looking at them all on Mark’s camera on the way back over to Whistler to take the village gondola back down, and I wanted to cry. They were so perfect, the lighting couldn’t have been better and I can’t stop looking at them now 3 weeks later.

These photos are some of the best I’ve ever had taken of me in my entire life, and I can’t thank Mark enough for collaborating on this project. He and I have both been editing them, his are posted in an album on Flickr, click here if you’d like to see his! Mine are also on Flickr, I’ve been editing in snow effects, and since it’s my own Flickr account I can actually embed an album into this post. There’s only 8 photos so far (we took nearly 400!), but I will be adding more to this album as I get through the editing process.

[fsg_gallery id=”4″]

This is one of the best experiences of my life, and I am beyond glad that Mark and I did this. It was worth the trip and the money, the frostbite and the cold that haunted me for two weeks after given we were at 7,000ft elevation and it was -17C. I would happily do this again!

Costuming, Disney Princess Series, Public Appearances, Sewing Projects

Queen Elsa v2.0

After nearly a year straight of wearing my Elsa costume on a regular basis for big public appearances and birthday parties, it’s time to retire my original costume and bring out a new one. I’ve enjoyed so many great experiences in my first design that it’s bittersweet retiring it, but after so many outdoor events its taken quite a beating and sadly.. it’s time. Frozen has had such a huge impact on my life this past year and it’s only fair that my favourite character get a new costume worthy of portraying her.

The upside of making Elsa for a second time is that I learned a lot from the first one, and there are way better fabric options available now. Sequins were a terrible choice as they cut into the organza cape and made the shirtsleeves pill, and the organza cape itself did not want to stay together anywhere there was a seam on the bias. With the popularity of Frozen there are new fabrics available that have been designed specifically for Elsa and Anna costumes, and I fully took advantage of that.

Supplies were ordered in late November, and even though a good chunk of them came from China they all arrived before Christmas! The early arrival was incredibly convenient as I actually ended up ridiculously sick over the holidays which led to loads of time sitting on my couch and therefore time for incredible amounts of detail. It’s entirely wearable at this point but I’m still wearing my old shirt; the new one is cut out but this time I’d like to rhinestone it before sewing it, and I just haven’t found the time yet this year to sit down and do that.

The skirt was first, and the same as my original with a slight change to the hem. My original had a pointed hem that flowed nicely with the cape, but made the skirt a lot more cumbersome when getting in and out of a vehicle. I’m usually driving to and from events/parties dressed as Elsa (unless lovely husband is available and willing to come with), so trying to fit the skirt and cape into the drivers seat was a challenge. The point also wasn’t accurate, which became more apparent when higher resolution reference material was available. This time I used fabric I purchased on Etsy, which was actually a bit more of a challenge than I expected. It wasn’t clear from the photos, but the silver threading in the fabric ran from selvage edge to selvage edge, meaning I had to cut my skirt pieces horizontally instead of the usual way. The back two panels are pieced together up at the waist; it was the only way to get the length I wanted and the seams are hidden by the corset. The skirt is fully lined with a periwinkle blue heritage cotton.

IMG_20141222_112633IMG_20141222_112620 

Next came the corset which was the most involved piece of all this time. It’s the same overbust style I used for Snow White from Once Upon a Time with a few adjustments; I brought the neckline up a bit for some more coverage and trimmed the bottom edge for the refined point. This corset is four layers; the Etsy fabric and heavy twill flatlined together for the outer layer, and the periwinkle blue heritage cotton and heavy twill flatlined together for the inner layer. To keep the outer layer smooth all of the boning channels are on the lining layer; there’s flat steel in the center and at the lacing panel, and spring steel along each seam and in the middle of the panels. The grommets are hand painted, originally antique brass (as that’s all I have on hand that fits my press right now) but painted with a mix of Jacquard fabric paints to match the fabric. The edges were bound with the Etsy fabric after this picture was taken.

IMG_20141223_145341

Next came the part that nearly drove me insane, made my hands ache, but killed a lot of couch time while I was dreadfully sick. I took some 14 gauge vinyl and painted the back of the sheets with a mix of white, teal and blue fabric paints. It took a few layers until it was opaque enough, and once it was completely dry it was cut into rectangles. I did the majority of it a uniform shade but there is a section along the top of the corset that is a few shades lighter, I had some smaller sheets left that I added a bit more white into the paint to give it a bit of an ombre effect. After cutting each sheet into rectangles I then spent more hours than I am comfortable counting cutting each rectangle into a rounded rectangle.

IMG-20141221-WA0000 IMG-20141221-WA0003 IMG-20141224-WA0010 IMG-20141224-WA0002Of course, the tiny rectangle insanity couldn’t end there. Oh no. That was just nearly two days straight (and I do mean straight, from the time I woke up til the time I went to bed) of cutting. These little buggers still needed to be attached. Armed with a tube of E6000 glue, a lot of patience and the biggest bottle of Dayquil I could buy, I sat with the corset and my bowls of rounded rectangles and gradually glued each little rectangle down onto the fabric, one by one.

IMG-20141224-WA0015IMG-20141224-WA0017IMG_20141225_124405Once the rectangles were glued down I took a break, let it dry and then attacked it with rhinestones, beads and even more glue.

IMG_20141208_140754_nopm_IMG-20141226-WA0000 IMG-20141226-WA0002 There’s a modesty panel made just of fabric between the lacing panels; I’ve contemplated adding the vinyl rectangles to that as well but am concerned about the wear of the corset laces on it. I may experiment at a later date but for now, it’s just fabric.

I will admit that I bought the cape pre-made this time around. Making it last time was okay, but trying to find a fabric I liked this time that would also hold up to the methods available to me for putting the snowflake pattern on, well.. my choices were limited. I heavily contemplated chiffon this time over my previous organza, but as chiffon frays so easily I opted against it. I saw someone post a picture of a cape they’d ordered and fell in love , and after much digging I found a seller with it in stock. It was roughly the same price to buy the cape as it would have been to acquire fabric and supplies to make it, and saved me a load of time. As much as I pride myself in the things I make from scratch, the saved hours of labour and the screen accurate print were too hard to resist. Bought the cape, love the cape, greatly enjoy the cape. The below two photos are from prior to finishing the corset (and I realized after I hadn’t tucked the cape into the back of the corset) but it was Christmas Day, my best friend was here and she wanted to see it all together.

IMG_20141225_144036 IMG_20141225_144021 

With my old shirt, I wore this version out to its first event at the end of December. Ballet Victoria invited us to join them again this year for their production of The Gift, this time to greet children before the show and during intermission for their weekend performances. We met so many wonderful kids, and had a blast seeing my husband dressed up as Olaf. Anna had a hat and cape this time courtesy of Victoria Costumes, who were also kind enough to make it available to us when we walked in the Sidney Christmas Parade. I will get around to making them myself eventually, but other things keep getting in the way!

I’m so excited to have my new Elsa costume ready for the birthday parties I have lined up so far in 2015, and am scheduling as many appearances as I can.

IMG_20141228_135726 IMG_20141227_130414 DSC_0167 edit B3pnaDCCQAI53Bt

 

 

Costuming, Disney Princess Series

Disney Princess Series Part 9 – Princess Anna (Frozen)

As promised, I am posting about Anna from Frozen now that she’s finished! Thanks to J I’ve found the most amazing Anna I could possibly ask for in new friend D; not only is she just as nuts as I am but she makes an absolutely perfect Anna. We had our first costumed outing yesterday which led to quite the photoshoot afterwards, and for those of you who were looking for photos we took with you and/or your kids, they’re all going to be at the end of this post.

I bought Anna fabric back in early May and didn’t know when I’d get around to it, but a friend of Devin’s asked if I could stop by his daughter’s birthday party and I just knew I had to have both Anna and Elsa there. I started the corset embroidery one Saturday morning and nearly drove myself crazy with it. The design had a lot of unexpected jump stitches in it that resulted in a few broken needles, so after the third try I finally knew where to run over and pause the machine to keep it from snapping more needles in half. The corset was sadly the easy part.

IMG_20140510_124937

The skirt was INSANELY tedious. The scalloped hem was done with a cardboard template after a bunch of math to figure out how to make it even. The seam joining the light blue to the royal blue is just inside the edge of the hem, and a 4mm wide satin stitch attaches it to the rest of the skirt. There’s something like 30 embroidery designs total on it, and it took at least 25 hours to do them all. I had the same problem with jump stitches and snapped needles (I think about 16 needles were sacrificed to the skirt), but finally managed to figure out where things were snapping and then broke up the design into blocks so I could manage it manually. The smaller designs were around 30-40 mins each, and they were the first ones I did.

IMG_20140612_222320

The bigger designs on the skirt each took about an hour, and were the bane of my existence. While they were running on the embroidery machine, I put together the shirt and bound the edges of the corset in gold satin bias tape. The shirt was drafted up from an old button down shirt that’s too small for me, so I had to size it up to fit better. I didn’t like how the shoulders sat afterwards so they were adjusted. While I’m aware Anna has a covered button placket, I sadly did not have the patience to make the shirt that way. I was running out of time with two projects due at the same time, so I made it like a normal placket and added decorative stitching.

IMG_20140616_212645

Finally the skirt embroidery was done late Saturday, and I sat on my couch for a couple of hours snipping all the stabilizer off the back of the fabric. Sunday I rushed to make a waistband and put a zipper into the skirt so it’d be ready for our birthday party visit!

I don’t have birthday party photos, but below is a Flickr slideshow of the entire photoshoot! People who are looking for photos we took with you, they will be in here. You can also view them directly on Flickr where they’re downloadable in high res. 🙂

[fsg_gallery id=”1″]

Costuming, Sewing Projects

Spring & Summer Projects – The Pirate and the Princess (Princesses?!)

Believe it or not, I am not dead. There is life after Fan Expo, and it’s been filled with ridiculous quantities of fabric, steel boning, and pirate gear. This sounds weird, I know, as I normally handle princess stuff and not pirates, but bear with me.

Back in May, darling husband and I decided to join a local LARPing group. After spending most of last year and the early part of 2014 doing the whole prince/princess volunteer thing, I figured it was only fair that I go along with what he wanted to do this summer.. especially since it still meant I got to make costumes! Shortly after we decided this I didn’t want to let all of my princess gowns just hang in my closet taking up space and collecting dust, so I opted to sell them.

I know. You’re probably shocked.

I kept Elsa, but every other costume I still had has moved on to Victoria Costumes, which is a costume rental shop up in Brentwood Bay. The owner and I came to an agreement that worked for both of us, and I believe we found a new friend in each other as well. I can still visit any of the costumes any time I want, and still occasionally make appearances in costume for her!

Of course I can’t completely let go of princessing, and am in the midst of having Anna ready to go by late June for a joint appearance with Elsa. There will be a post on her soon, but in the mean time let me tell you about pirate insanity.

I started with a pirate shirt and vest for the husband, and whipped up an underbust corset and pirate shirt for myself. We wore these up to our first afternoon with the larping group where we observed how things go. At that point we also had fabric at home for a fabulous pirate jacket for Devin and some more corsets for me, but I only have so much free time outside of my regular 9-5 job! Just before that first adventure we also found out that husband was to be shipped off for a new training course out in Halifax for the majority of the summer, so I put his pirate stuff on hold and went to work on my own.

IMG_481657354562156

This glorious jacket happened, and it’s officially one of my favourite costume pieces to date. It’s an ivory/pearl/gold upholstery fabric with the coordinating red/gold fabric as an underbust corset. The jacket is lined with an ivory cotton sateen and just absolutely plastered in buttons. It’s a modified version of the Simplicity Pirates of the Caribbean pattern; I bought the mens version AGES ago for husband should he ever feel the need to turn pirate, and since Fabricland no longer carries Simplicity I opted to mess around with the men’s version til I was happy with how it fit me. They also don’t have a collar on theirs but I feel that any pirate captain (or pirate queen, in my case) worth their salt would have an epic collar, so that had to be added. This jacket is comfortable as hell, I feel positively regal in it, and it just makes me stupidly happy. Before husband returns from training I’ll be making his jacket from a sturdy brown twill, and will likely embroider the crap out of it.

I also put together a corseted tailcoat for myself recently. I do a lot of Pinterest browsing for ideas and kept seeing this gorgeous corset/coat combos coming up whenever I searched for pirate corsets, and decided what the hell I might as well make one. After a bit of experimentation this is what I came up with:

In addition to Anna there’s a couple of small projects I’m working on; it’s pretty much guaranteed that at any point I have some sort of corset on the go at the very least. There’s one big project I have coming up, my first fabric order arrived yesterday and another should be coming in before the end of the week. I’m very fortunate in that I have an amazing group of friends who enjoy dressing up as much as I do, and they’ve all agreed to do Once Upon a Time costumes for the masquerade at the Fairmont Empress this October.

Our group is fairly large (there’s 6 right now but we may get more between now and October!) and as I’m costuming for all of us I know I’m going to be downright swamped this summer. Awesome husband is 100% on board as the dashing Killian Jones/Captain Hook, I will be Emma Swan, and awesome friends K, J, D and L are going as Regina, Cora, Snow White and Belle. I am stupidly excited for this as I am really looking forward to making these gowns, but so far my best find for this has been the fabric for the jacket Killian wears in the finale. Husband and I are opting for the ‘Prince Charles/Princess Leia’ outfits from King Midas’ ball, so the big red long sleeved dress for Emma and the brown/black jacket for Killian. I was lucky enough to track down the exact same fabric that the show costumers used for Killian’s jacket, which has basically had me giddy for a full week.

I’ve got my work cut out for me, and I can’t wait. I have Emma and Cora’s fabric already, Regina’s should be here by Friday, and Belle and Snow are ordering next month.

Like I said, I’m not too good at getting away from princesses. Gowns and corsets are what I do best, but sometimes it’s nice to be a pirate as well!

Costuming, Disney Princess Series

Effie Trinket & Caesar Flickerman, Fan Expo Vancouver!

About 6 weeks before Fan Expo, as I was putting the finishing touches on Elsa, husband and I were watching Catching Fire. Partway through the movie he turned to me and asked if there was a chance in hell that I’d be able to put together Caesar and Effie costumes in time for Fan Expo. I don’t admit this often, but occasionally he has really amazing ideas, and this was definitely one of them. I knew it’d be a LOT of work and he’d need to help me, but it was a fun challenge and I figured why not? Wigs came first, these are actually re-purposed wigs from previous costumes. K’s old silver wig from her Storm costume was cut and re-wefted, then dyed with a very small amount of iDye poly in red to get a super pale pink. My blonde Rose Tyler wig got a bit of a trim and then was dyed with purple iDye poly. A bit of heat styling for both (sponge rollers and a blow dryer for Effie, just a blow dryer for Caesar) and loads of teasing completed the looks. Caesar has two wig clips sewn into it to keep it on crazy husband’s head, as he doesn’t have enough hair to pin it down!

I’d purchased loads of ivory poplin, satin and chiffon back in the fall with the intent of re-making my original wedding dress for a vow renewal trip to Cancun that ended up getting cancelled. This roll of fabric had been sitting in my closet for months with no new purpose, so after ordering loads of pink iDye poly (can you tell I love this stuff?) it all got dyed and turned into Effie! I did a stupid amount of math for circle skirts and ended up with three satin circles for the overskirt and one big poplin circle for lining. The bodice started as a plain sweetheart neckline with a circle the same size as the top skirt layer, which was later hand-sewn to the bodice to create the ruffled look.

Then came the chiffon. It’s been almost two months since I started this dress and I’m still finding little chiffon strings EVERYWHERE. After plenty of math I started ripping strips of chiffon to gather in rows onto each skirt circle. So much ripping. So many chiffon bits everywhere. So many rows. I did a couple of rows of red along the bottom of each circle and then the rest was done in hot pink. Each circle was also stabilized with a layer of crinoline, as I knew the chiffon would weigh down the satin. Honestly, a good majority of the work that went into this was hand gathering the chiffon strips onto each circle and then stitching them down slightly uneven to try and match the look of the original dress. I feel like I was on the verge of insanity doing this.

By the end of it I’d completely lost track of just how many yards of chiffon I’d sewn down. My rough guess is just under 200, but I honestly have no idea anymore. All three skirt layers were covered in chiffon, as well as the top circle. IMG_20140414_195809 It took a lot of effort but eventually I got all the layers stitched together and somehow managed to get a zipper into this badboy. I can’t even tell you what a fight that was, but I was quite relieved when it was done! I wear my white petticoat under this dress but I also borrowed a couple of steel hoops from my triple hoopskirt to help support the weight of all the chiffon and make sure the skirt was as poofy as the original. You’ll get photos of me in it by the end of this post, as I was with Caesar in pretty much all of them it makes sense to write about him first! The shoes were also quite interesting.. after much hunting I managed to find the correct style on eBay but I needed to put the chiffon on them myself. Husband was recruited to cut hundreds of circles of tulle for me, and cut all the chiffon circles. After about 8 hours and many glue gun burns to my fingers they were finished and looked fabulous! IMG_20140415_202713 (1) There was also her ridiculous accessories, the black cuffs and ruffled wristbands as well as hot pink gloves. Weirdly enough I couldn’t find any hot pink gloves, so I bought light pink and dyed them. The black cuffs I opted to embroider the mockingjay on them (the originals have what looks like big metal arrows, but I figured why not do the mockingjay?), and the ruffled cuffs were purple grosgrain ribbon with hot pink satin ribbon stitched on the ends. Those were gathered into the ruffle like an Elizabethan collar, and it was all done by hand. IMG-20140416-WA0001 The rings I lucked into on eBay, same with the earrings. Necklace was acquired at Forever21 Metrotown by best friend K as they didn’t have it in Victoria! And now Caesar. Caesar will be brief, as I really hate making menswear and didn’t photograph much of it. This is the same blazer style I made for husband’s 11th Doctor blazer last year, and this time we did matching pants. I’m still quite proud of how it turned out, everyone at Fan Expo couldn’t believe I was insane enough to make a suit, but good lord do I ever hate the process of making them.

We found some incredible fabric at Fabricland for the Caesar suit which is what really sold Devin on the overall idea. It was really a maybe until we came across this stuff. There were quite a few fittings for husband to make sure it was all sitting properly, as well as some modifications as he really hates shoulder pads. I mean really, it’s a suit, there’s not much more I can tell you aside from find a pattern and follow the directions. Be prepared to want to pull out your hair, and acquire a tailor’s ham if you don’t already have one. I still need one, I did this without and really wished I hadn’t. Without further blabbing, here’s a whole bunch of photos that I’ve tracked down online from the expo! We went as Caesar & Effie on Saturday, and then Elsa and Castiel on Sunday. If your photo is on here and you didn’t watermark it I sincerely apologize as I’ve lost track of where they all came from, please let me know which is yours and I’m happy to add credit. 🙂

Aaaaaand my favourite album of photos! I have to link to the entire album as Flickr no longer supports album embedding on WordPress, but I’ve added a few of my favourites below! A good friend of mine is an excellent photographer, and he also conveniently happens to be Hugh Laurie’s doppelganger. He spent the weekend dressed as House and the number of people who thought he was the real thing was just amazing. There’s some great photos of him in this album and he caught some of my absolute favourite moments as Elsa. There’s also more of adorable tiny Anna in this one, so if you love her as much as I do this is where you want to look! Sorry that these are not center aligned; honestly I’ve tried so many times but the Flickr individual image embedding ONLY wants to work when they’re left aligned.. so yeah. Weird. But sorry.

Also, the Jelsa pictures.. well, you’re welcome, Tumblr. lol

R2D2 Meets Dr. House at Fan Expo Vancouver

Elsa the Snow Queen

Elsa the Snow Queen

Elsa the Snow Queen

Elsa the Snow Queen and House

_71C0525

_71C0559

_71C0561
The Jack Frost on the left of this photo can be found here!

_71C0697

Lord Vader bows down before Queen Elsa

But seriously go to Mark’s Flickr album, because there’s more than these and they are awesome! He’s updating it whenever he gets a chance to process photos so more will be coming. 🙂

 

Costuming, Disney Princess Series

Disney Princess Series Part 8 – Ariel, The Little Mermaid (actual mermaid version!)

I accidentally a mermaid.

I had no plans to create the mermaid version of Ariel until the summer when the weather and ocean water is warmer here in Victoria, but then an opportunity for amazing photos came along and there was no way I could resist. Husband and I were to attend my company’s annual conference in the Dominican but it was cancelled last minute, so we opted to plan our own trip to Cuba. We booked it on a Monday with plans to fly out that Saturday, and it didn’t occur to me until Wednesday that since the trip was no longer work-sponsored I could be as weird as I wanted. I had contemplated making mermaid!Ariel and taking it to the conference to get beach photos, but this would also have been the first time I met everyone else in the company nationwide and figured introducing myself while wearing a mermaid fin might be awkward.

So along came Wednesday and I realized I had everything sitting in various bins at home to put together the mermaid version of Ariel, and enough room in my suitcase to fit the fin. I am nothing if not determined, and by the time I got home from work that day I had already started drafting up my tail. Since I was working quickly I didn’t take many photos, but what I do have I will post!

IMG_20140326_171320

With Devin’s help I stuck a giant piece of tape from my waist down to my ankles along the side of my leg, and than had him measure around my body every two inches and mark it on the tape. The tape was then put in the middle of some brown craft paper and I drew out the measurements til I had a passable shape that would fit my body snugly. At the bottom by my ankle measurement I placed my mermaid fin over the paper and traced around it to get the complete shape.

The mermaid fin! Last summer, after a few beers, I ended up purchasing a monofin on eBay. My monofin came from FinFunMermaid and it’s the adult sized ‘pro’ version. It’s actually surprisingly easy to swim with, but when maneuvering in a full tail across sand it gets a bit awkward. Also holy crap does it accumulate sand when in the ocean.

Once I had my complete shape, I drew a little V by my ankles to separate the colours, with the emerald green spandex being the majority of my legs and then lime green for the tail. Everything got cut out and then assembled with a straight stretch stitch and serged on the inside. The waist was a bit looser than I’d intended, so I ended up putting it on inside out to re-mark where I’d prefer the seams and then stitching it up again.

Ariel tail test fit Fin over monofin

 

I should point out that the blue monofin showing was irritating me, but that gap needs to be open for water to flow through and not weigh down the tail. I ended up stitching some lime green spandex straight onto the monofin so that it would blend in. You’ll be able to see later when the tail is wet! It was a lot easier than I thought it would be getting this together, so I set the tail aside to get started on the shells for the bra. I still had padded hip fins to do, but the shell paint would need time to dry and then cure in the oven.

I picked up some porcelain acrylic paint at Michaels and started painting my shells. I did a few coats of light purple on the inner parts, then used a darker purple along the outside to blend into the lighter center. Once I was happy with the colour I brushed on some lilac AB glitter and then popped them in the oven to cure as per the directions on the paint.IMG_20140326_200831 IMG_20140326_202759

 

After baking and cooling, I decided the shells needed to be more sparkly. I have more rhinestones laying around my house than I know what to do with, so I used some E6000 glue and added crystal AB, turquoise AB and tiny pearls all over the shells.

The bra was an easy thing to do as well, I took purple lycra and stretched it over the cups til it sat like the bra fabric did and then hand stitched them over the cups. I found this way preferable to machine stitching as I didn’t have to worry about the underwire, and it didn’t leave a visible seam on the cups. The sides were just covered with more lycra and then zig-zagged on. The straps are done like a spaghetti strap, but I left the tubes wide enough to feed the actual bra straps through.

The padded hip fins were a bit of a chore and I sadly didn’t photograph that part, but I am very happy with how they came out. I made two long ovals for each side and then sewed them together at a point for the front. They were stuffed with ripped up strips and pieces of tulle I had laying around, and then straight stretch stitched along the waistband. I also zig zagged some bathing suit elastic right underneath it to help keep it upright.

Because I am not entirely sane, I packed up the tail, shell bra, starfish hair combs and my Ariel wig and took them to Cuba like it’s a totally normal thing to bring a mermaid costume on vacation.

On our last night at the resort I got all Ariel’d up and marched down to the beach with my fin in tow. It’s a bit awkward to wiggle into as I have to put the fabric tail on first, followed by stuffing my feet into the monofin and then stretching the fin fabric over it. People were definitely staring at me like I was a bit nuts, but it was totally worth it. Once I had the fin on I kinda shuffled my butt down into the water, and then a couple of little girls came over to see me. Very cute!

Awesome husband took several photos while I rolled around along the shoreline, and we had a blast. Totally worth the weird looks on the way to the beach.