Art Nouveau Meg: Details

After finishing the main construction of the costume, I was finally ready to tackle Worbla again. All I had left to do was the belt. I rolled a long strip of Worbla into a tube, moulding it with my fingers to try and make it look branchy. I then drew and cut leaves out of Worbla, using a shaping tool to draw the little leafy channels. After melting the edges of the leaves and pressing them to the belt, I realised I’d made it too big. It wasn’t in proportion to the rest of the costume, it’s bigger and chunkier than it should be. However, I went ahead and painted it, made the medallion and kept it.

I drew the medallion on craft foam and cut it out. Then I sandwiched it in between Worbla, using a crafting tool to press in the edges and dents. Then it was finished with layers of craft glue, then paint and then I used black paint to detail. Then I put on the same gems as on the shoulder bit.

And it’s come to the final details! The first thing I decided to tackle were the details on the bottom of the skirt. I had been panicking about these forever as I didn’t trust my ability to draw out a pattern. I first tried to lift the pattern off the digital image, but I’m not Photoshop able enough to accomplish that. So! I took up pencil and paper and stared at the image until I could draw something.

So I came up with this:

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There was more to the left, the design spread over four A4 sheets

I inked it, photocopied it and then stuck it on a flattened cardboard box. I used Ginger Liz’s method, since hers turned out so great! Her method was to paint it over parcel tape so that the paint sort of pools over on the right side of the fabric and becomes smooth. Top tip: make sure that the parcel tape doesn’t ripple. I didn’t and mine ended up having grooves all over. So then I just painted it over in sections, letting it dry for 24 hours in between. I used Jacquard Lumière Metallic Gold and it took nearly two bottles for the whole costume.

The chiffon shifted a lot as well, so I have to be careful. But it was done! Then I ironed it to set the paint and hemmed the skirt up with Heat’n’Bond. Unfortunately, it is still too long but since it’s painted I can’t hem it any more than it is. I used this same method to paint the golden borders on the edge of the sleeve and toga.

Then I did the little bit to decorate the top shoulder of the toga bit. It just looked like a bumpy trim. So I simply took a bit of leftover trim from the making of the breastplate and sewed it so that it had little raised pockets.

I attached that to the gathered stitches at the top of the sleeve. Then I painted the little dots on the sleeve. I wanted to use Tulip’s Beads in a Bottle but unfortunately I couldn’t find anywhere in the UK that sold the metallic gold I wanted and it was too late to order it from the USA. So instead I used Tulip’s Metallics Gold 3D paint which allowed me to do little raised dots on the sleeve. It’s a different sort of gold, so I experimented with painting over the dots with Jacquard, but I figured I liked this darker gold as well.

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I also painted the accessories with the same acrylic paint I used for the armour. The accessories consist of two headbands, a hair accessory, and a snake bracelet – all were bought from eBay. I also varnished them to try and keep the paint from scratching.

The last thing I had to do was to cut and add the chains! I used little jewellery hooks and closures to attach them to the shoulder piece. Hopefully it’ll be enough to hold it in place! I am wearing this costume to the London Comic Con this weekend and I’m so afraid of ruining it. The chiffon seems to tear and crumble with everything! Wish me luck.

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Art Nouveau Meg: Construction

While working with Worbla did strike fear into my very heart, every other aspect of this cosplay arose a similar reaction. I had never done a lot of the things this cosplay requires, from fabric dyeing to embroidery. So I started by planning everything out very carefully. I made a list of all the materials I would need and a budget before I even started. The thing that would take the longest would be the chiffon. Thanks to the group Hannah Alexander Cosplayers I knew that silk chiffon was the best material for this, but it was outside of my budget here. In the UK, the cheapest I could find was still £8 p/m. However, Dharma Trading Company was recommended and their silk chiffon was half the price and the shipping was super cheap too! Wonderful, right? So as I eagerly awaited the arrival of my chiffon (which could take up to a month), I got down to sketching (I can’t really draw) and planning.

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I knew I was going away for the whole month of August, so I wanted to get started as soon as possible to get this cosplay ready for London Comic Con in October (two weeks from now!). The chiffon arrived and it was wonderful. It was super smooth and draped beautifully. I got 10 meters of it, and split it up before dyeing it. I knew, from previous experience, that chiffon was a pain to cut straight but I’ve found that nicking a little cut on the selvage edge and then pulling one strand works really well, rather than marking where to cut. Thankfully I’m short enough to use the width of the fabric as the length of the skirt, so I only had to cut several rectangles. The skirt would be made from the overlaying of two rectangles, one was two meters long and the other four. The chiffon was quite sheer and these two layers help make it more opaque and it looks great. Then I cut another two meters for the toga drape bit, one half a meter for the sleeve and the left over was for scraps such as the sash and the skirt waistband. I then got down to gradient dyeing these.

I researched and heard a lot of advice on this before I attempted it. Since the chiffon was expensive and took a long time to arrive, I knew I only had one shot at this. I used the Rit Dye colour chart, bought the appropriate colours, used their instructions and thankfully it all went well. I used paper towels to try out the solution before dipping the fabric and made sure to add vinegar and washing up liquid to each dye bath. It was just a matter of putting in the fabric up to the point where I wanted the colour to fade, leave it in for a few minutes and gradually pull it up, dipping and re-dipping to try and diffuse the clear lines. I can say it will definitely be easier the second time. I learned to be patient and I would be more careful about where the colours meet and those lines!

After that, it was assembly time. The toga drape scared me, so I decided to start with the skirt. I gathered down the top edges of both the two meter and the four meter rectangles down to my waist measurement and pinned it on my dressform to see how it looked.

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Those little gathers are SO CUTE

I was pretty much in love with the chiffon at this point. So then I used the purple scrap bits to make a waistband. I overlayed the a long piece of cotton sateen with the chiffon, basting the edges together, and made it into a waistband (I also interfaced it for stiffness). The purple didn’t really matter, because this bit would be covered by the toga. I left a six inch gap on the one seam, so I can get it on and off. I haven’t decided whether it’ll be at the back or at the side, but it doesn’t really matter. I then added a hook and bar so that the skirt closes.

And the skirt was done! So I supposed I had to try the toga bit. I started by using my dressform to try and envision better how manipulate this square into the toga bit. The bit about the sleeve was really doing my head in but I started by sewing all the gathering stitches I knew I would need. So I sewed two rows on the top yellow edge and then two rows down precisely the middle of it. Then I gathered down the top edge so that it would sit comfortably in that drape , and the middle section to as small as it would go. Then I attached the sash to the top yellow edge with french seams. I took the sash with me on holiday, so that I could work on my embroidery. The sash is a meter and a half of cotton sateen for stiffness overlayed with the purple chiffon.

I used a small hoop and goldish yellow thread. I back-stitched the outline first and then filled it in with a sating stitch. I had some problems at first, because I tried using four strands and it looked horrible.

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YUCK

But after some advice from the embroidery gurus, I cut it down to two strands which took way longer but looked way better (each set of the greek key took me about three hours).

Once attached with french seams and all gathered, it looked like this:

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Not bad, right? I was pretty chuffed, so I had to move onto the sleeve. It took me FOREVER. First I sewed up the side seam with a french seam. I sewed ten inches down from the sash, left a gap, and then sewed the rest. The gap would be the armhole. I don’t know why but the idea of french seaming the sleeve in just completely baffled me. The sleeve ripples down from the top, so that the edges actually end up at the top of the sleeve. But I managed! I then gathered down the top ten inches so that it sat nicely on the shoulder. And then I hit the lace debacle. The design has beautiful purple motifs next to the sash, but I didn’t want to hand embroider these because it would take a long time and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make them look delicate enough. So I perused Etsy for lace for hours and ordered some. I tried dyeing it in several different dye baths with different dyes, but because it must be some sort of polyester, the dye just WOULD NOT TAKE. So I was forced to paint it with acrylic paint, which did the job but took the life out of the lace. It looks terrible. Then, it was being an absolutely pain to attach. The thread kept getting caught on the sharp, now stiff with paint, edges and the chiffon would take the opportunity to shift everywhere. So I did a bad thing.

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I glued it on.

IknowIknow but it was so quick and it looks okay! Don’tjudgeme.

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And with the lace attached, the construction bit was officially over! My next post will be about the final details. I still needed to make the Worbla belt, arrange all the accessories, and paint the golden motifs onto the skirt and toga, and add the chains. And it will be finished!

Art Nouveau Meg: making Worbla armour

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Artwork by Hannah Alexander

I’ve made a start on my cosplay! I am so excited for this project. I love Hannah Alexander’s redesigns, particularly the Disney ones. I’m also making an effort to document my way through this, maybe it’ll help another cosplayer at some point! I would also like to particularly thank Ginger Liz, who has already made an amazing Megara cosplay and has been so patient and helpful with all my questions; everyone at the Hannah Alexander Cosplay group, and also Kayoss Cosplay for all their advice as well.

So this is my first time using Worbla and I was a bit daunted by it. I’ve seen so many amazing results in terms of armour for cosplay, so I had high expectations and no skill at all. But I want this cosplay really bad, so I tried it anyway, and it’s not really that bad! My first stop was Google and Youtube and thankfully there are plenty of talented cosplayers sharing their wisdom. So with their advice in mind, I set off!

Worbla is a bit of an investment. It’s expensive (I got a large sheet for £26 with a student discount at Flint’s Chandeliers, down in Elephant and Castle), and you need a heat gun. I started by putting all this together and making a pattern. I did this by wrapping myself in clingfilm and then masking tape. I then used the mirror to draw on the rough guideline shapes. I cut off the weird plastic corset off and drew the details onto it, and then cut it out of the Worbla.

I ended up with this!

I cut off the breast bits separately because they need to be shaped into a round form, so they need to then be melted and blended into the rest of the piece. Most of the tutorials I saw used a plastic round mould for this, but I didn’t have any nor did I know where to get any, so I used an old bra instead. I used duct tape to secure clingfilm over it, and made sure the Worbla was already cooled a little bit before draping it over the cup and shaping it. Then I let it harden into position. I then used the sandwich method (one layer of craft foam between two layers of Worbla). I put the wrong sides together, so make sure that the shiny side of Worbla is the one facing the foam! Also make sure that the foam bit is smaller than the Worbla, so that it sandwiches around it.


Then I heated up the edges of the breastplate and the cups and very carefully patched it together. Now, I didn’t use two sheets for the cups, as most tutorials suggest (because I’m an idiot), and so the Worbla started tearing once I put pressure to fit it into the round edges. I would recommend using two layers of Worbla for this as well! Once that was done, I traced the detail patterns onto craft foam and used my glue gun to stick them to the breastplate. Then I heated up the whole thing and awkwardly wrapped it around myself so that it would get the round shape.

I fiddled with it some more after thus photo, popping air bubbles with a pin and trying to smooth it out (mostly unsuccessfully)

I was really unhappy with the uneven, messy aspect of it, but the more I reheat it and tried to fix it, the more it started crumbling and tearing. So I gave up and called it finished. Then two layers of craft glue for priming! And on to painting. I started with a base layer of  black, and then gold. I also used a little bit of black again to try and give it a used/ old vibe but I’m not very good at painting so… yeah. Then I added trims and then varnished it.

I also made a pauldron (or shoulder thingy, as I’ve been calling it!). I didn’t take many photos of this because the process was the same, except I didn’t sandwich the foam in two Worbla pieces. Instead, I cut a big oval like shape out of foam and then one out of Worbla, but I did something like a half inch in allowance. Then I heated it up and wrapped it over the foam, turning the excess allowance inward. Then I cut details out of foam, glued everything on and painted it.

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It’s pretty much done at this point! I’m having some trouble finding rhinestones or jewels big enough for the eyes on the shoulder thingy, but after I sorted that out, the amour for this Megara cosplay will be done. Not really looking forwards to working with more Worbla, but I still have a belt and bracelet to do, eck.