Apr 282015

Laika’s ears have never worked when we arrived at a convention. So we’ve decided to redo her hat as a standalone item — complete with a soft circuit stitched in.

What’s a soft circuit, you ask? Basically, like a regular circuit, but with conductive thread in place of wires. Instead of pins, there’s pads, which I can stitch around with the conductive thread, to both hold the items in place and connect them. It’s actually pretty cool.

We bought an Adafruit Gemma, the smaller of their two wearable microcontroller platforms, and devised a circuit:

2015-04-02 17.59.07

Those aren’t sparks; that’s conductive thread catching the light from my flash

2015-04-02 17.59.23

You can see the circuits heading to the breadboard, where the servo leads are going to be soldered in

Unfortunately, the battery pack — a neat little job that holds two d-cell batteries — could provide enough voltage, but not nearly enough amps to power the Gemma and two servos. After doing some research, we purchased a rechargeable battery pack that could do plenty of amps — but not enough volts. So we also had to get a booster that would up-step the voltage to 5V, which would be enough for the servos. 

That got us almost all the way to where we wanted to go, but that’s when we discovered another problem: one of the two servos was misbehaving. Instead of going from 0 to 90 and back, it was rotating slightly backward, then rotating 180 degrees. Clearly that wasn’t going to work for the ears; however, we spent ages hunting down potential shorts, taking measurements with our multimeter, editing the servo library, and generally trying to figure out what was wrong before we finally figured it out: we needed a capacitor. The power draw from both servos together was just too much for the circuit.

But we finally got it working!

laika hat 2

Nov 072014

As you know by now, the three of us decided on a Red Riding Hood theme for our costumes this year. Looking at the pics, you can probably tell what my least favorite part of my outfit was: that damned belt.

The Belt and Armbands

It all started with a pattern. Specifically, Butterick B5371. Oh, the image promised good things:

Specifically, the belt on the top left and the bracers on the bottom left. A simple little waist-cincher and matching armguards. What could possibly go wrong?


Everything could go wrong.

That belt has the minimum amount of sewing possible. You’re meant to cut out the lining and outer fabric and fuse them with fusable webbing rather than stitch the edges. I can sew a straight line with a machine, but leaving the edges raw meant every wobble of my scissors showed. Plus, the fabric I picked didn’t like heat, so it was awful trying to get the webbing to stay.

You see the problem. :/

I picked a white lining, which I discovered was a mistake: the straps need lining to give them enough heft to close anything, but the lining totally shows, because unlike every other strap anywhere ever, instead of stitching the lining to the fabric right-sides together and inverting, you just fuse and pray.

The pictures you see above? Those are finished, according to the pattern. 100% complete. Yay belt. I couldn’t leave it like that. I did what I could, trimming the edges in ribbon and clipping some of the straps, but it still doesn’t look great.

Of course, that leads to the next problem: in a belt that wide, there is no tapering whatsoever. With my corset on, I have a pretty severe hourglass sillhouette. It just gapes badly.

Oh, and what’s with the straps being like 6 inches longer than the belt?! Blech. I had loose bits flopping about all day when I went to work.

Capes and Vests

The two capes, on the other hand, were MUCH nicer patterns from Fleece Fun. Funnily enough, the Woodsman is wearing their Red Riding Hood pattern, with a hook instead of ribbon; I wanted a floor-length cape, so I went for their Fast Hooded Cape.

These are the best cape patterns I’ve ever seen, and I keep coming back to them again and again. They’re free, they’re simple, and including printing and taping, you can knock out a cape in an afternoon. You do have to be a little careful when taping; you’ll need to trim the margins, though I like to only trim one side so I can overlap the other margin underneath the trimmed one when taping two pieces together. Otherwise, all is great.

The vest was McCalls 2447; I had Chaos help me with the math to upsize the pattern to fit him, making this now the vest that fits him the best. We meant to put buttonholes and shiny buttons on it, but the buttonholer is apparently made of witchcraft and dark sorcery, so we have to wait until the right moon phase to make the darn thing work 🙂



Kae did this all on his own while I was at work 😀 He went and got some sticks, spray-painting them gold, which instantly made me think of The Honest Woodsman, definite A+ from me. He then used styrofoam blocks to make the axe-heads. That’s when he ran into a little trouble: he had some trouble finding the remains of our scattered paint collection. He decided to use Rub n’ Buff on the heads, but it took him some time to find our black spray paint to go underneath. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because he mentioned this to Chaos, who reminded him that spray paint melts styrofoam. Instead, he grabbed duct tape to make a solid surface and then painted over it with the Rub n’ Buff. Works for me!


Chaos doesn’t like things touching his eyes, so he’s never worn stage makeup before. We were going to go for a minimal look, but after browsing minimalistic makeup tutorials with a Wolf theme, he declared that they all looked stupid. I convinced him to try the full-face getup, and it paid off 🙂

We used the following makeups:

  • Ben Nye cl-26 grey
  • Ben Nye cl-25 steel grey
  • Ben Nye cl-29 black
  • Wet n’ Wild a042 pagan angel lipstick
  • Wet n’ Wild 392a tunnel vision eye-shadow palette

I took a photo of his face without glasses and ran it through GIMP filters to make a basic outline of his face, which we planned out the look on. We were trying to emulate the look of a wolf’s fur pattern, which more or less worked; I’m definitely not a makeup expert, but it looked pretty good. Later we mused that furry ears or a tail would have completed the look.

And there you have it!

Nov 022014

I know things now, many valuable things, that I hadn’t known before

Do not put your faith in a cape and a hood, they will not protect you the way that they should

Red proud

And take extra care with strangers, even flowers have their dangers


And though scary is exciting, nice is different than good

wolf crouch

Now I know, don’t be scared; Granny is right: just be prepared

Hope your Halloween and Day of the Dead were spook-tastic! Now let’s get hyped for Into the Woods Christmas!

Mar 212014

Welcome! For once, I’m actually sure what I’m doing, and can share tips and tricks in a proper how to with you all. Been a while, hasn’t it? 🙂

For the Laika Leonne build, I decided to make a pair of custom lion-esque ears. This is a process I’ve used to great success in the past making cat ears; I first started doing this when I got tired of hard-edged ears that hurt people when I headbutted them, which I am prone to doing >.> You know that thing where housecats walk up and shove their head into your hand as a way to demand affection? It’s hard to mimic when your ears can poke someone’s eye out >.>  Ears made with this procedure will squish when they encounter resistance and bounce back into shape after.

Fosshape is a specialty fabric made by the people who make Wonderflex; I first came across it when I was working in my university’s costume shop for credit. We used it to make lightweight masks. Basically, it’s a fabric much like felt, but when exposed to heat, it hardens and becomes more rigid — not totally rigid, but it holds a shape. Typically it’s molded or stitched or what have you while soft, then firmed up with a steamer. Lacking a steamer, I discovered that the oven works just as well: it just needs to get above 212F, which it can easily do in a 350F oven.

I make my molds out of tinfoil, mostly because I have plenty lying around.


The good thing about tinfoil is it’s fine to put in the over but can still hold pins in place 🙂


It took about ten or fifteen minutes to get them nice and hard in the oven; they cool quickly, so you can tell if they still feel floppy when you pinch the edge of one. I did the ears one at a time, but you can do more than one at at time if you make multiple molds; I used to do whole trays of ears when I was planning to sell them at cons.

finished 2

finished 3

Don’t think I’d forget your pinnable!


Feb 242014

So on a suggestion from a commenter (Thanks @Aurora Celeste!), I’ve joined the Silicon Web Costumer’s Guild so that I can have access to their (rather lovely) magazine. The November issue contains a build for a wig with tubular crin like I’m doing. So now there’s one mystery solved: I was supposed to buy this kind of product:



Rather than the wig cap I bought. I’m considering doing a second wig later, since this stuff was pretty cheap, but in the meantime I decided to see if I could save my stocking-based start with a beanie for structure. Heck, I’m picturing a series of styled wigs for various occasions; it’s certainly easier than making my wild locks behave!

I was hoping for a white beanie, but I only found grey at the local dollar store, so in true Steampunk spirit  I made do with what I could find. I tried on the hat:


Then set about attaching the stocking. I glued as few points as I could manage, to allow for the hat to stretch a bit, and then trimmed away all the excess stocking I could reach. I then glued new strands directly to the hat, continuing along the pattern I had begun. Helpfully, the hat has a seam that sits more or less right at my hairline, and I used safety pins to mark where my bangs should go (because my chalk pencils don’t write so well on fleece).

WIP shots:

I think it turned out pretty well, don’t you? 🙂

Wearing Front Wearing Back

 I also tried putting on Lucas’ hat to see what it looks like with a top hat, since that’s the eventual design:Bigger Hat Back of Hat

And the pinnable:

  Pin Pot2

Feb 012014

Okay, we had some problems getting the photos off the bloody camera (for whatever reason, the computer would recognize the camera was plugged in but trying to access the photos on them would cause the camera to crash and the computer to freeze up. fun times) but success is mine!


I should probably explain what I meant with the title. The CZU (that’s Cleveland Zeppelin Union for those new around here) managed to get use of Parma Township’s public library (well, one of the conference rooms anyway) to host a ‘Making Day.’  What that is, exactly, is the lot of us doing something of a show and tell about some of the things we make to support our obss- hobby. Enjoyable pass time. Activities of interest. For interest, we brought in the business cards Yami has created for our group complete with a short but nifty little slide show. I also whipped together another slide show about general creating idea, using the steampunk wreath we made as the main example.

Gabriel hard at work making a trinket for a curious attendee.

Gabriel hard at work making a trinket for a curious attendee.

We also had a booth showing off some LED creations, one that helped explain some of the common character ‘archetypes’ and paper wind-fish (think of a windsock but made of paper and in the shape of a carp).  It was pretty neat to see how far the gambit can run, from the relatively cheap and easy to make calling cards to the really impressive LED-studded costume pieces that can take weeks or even months to create.  Of course, props and costumes are only as cool as the ideas behind them, so even having a platform to explain to a few people about how to start ‘thinking steampunk’ was really great.  



Some of the CZU members trying to get the FB page up on the projector.

Some of the CZU members trying to get the FB page up on the projector.


The star of the show, however, was Gabriel  and his jewelry, ornaments and doodad creation seminar. He brought his hot glue gun, boxes of small metal, plastic and paste-gem bits and some chains, then did some quick tutorials and demonstrations of how to assemble some very simple creations. I, for example, worked with him and another CZU member to create my Owens persona a fake pocket-watch to go with his new vest.  It’s a simple piece, just a false watch face attached to a metal chain on one end and a decorative weight on the other.



It was half ‘hey, nice to see you all again!’ and half ‘PSA: Hello people, this is Steampunk!’ And personally, I think both halveswent great. Sure, we may not have gotten as many visitors as a panel during a con, but we had at least two dozen or so people attend our little three hour session. That’s not bad for a bunch of people who just want to share their fun.

Not a bad sized crowd.

Not a bad sized crowd.

And we also got to debut some new additions to the  Owens costumes (most of which has been covered elsewhere):

Got some nifty new vests and button-up shirts.

Got some nifty new vests and button-up shirts.


Nothing new technically but we haven't had a 'in costume' photo of Nettie as yet.

Nothing new technically but we haven’t had a ‘in costume’ photo of Nettie as yet.


The new pocket watch (and weight, which is what you can see) for Owens.

The new pocket watch (and weight, which is what you can see) for Owens.

 Posted by at 7:43 pm
Dec 152013

Greetings, loyal followers! Today, I have a confession to make: I have NO IDEA what I’m doing and it’s awesome!

I decided to make a wig from scratch. I knew I wanted a whole head of tubular crin, also known as “Cyberlox”; what I didn’t know was, um, anything about wig making. At all. Fun!

Most of the actual steps toward making a wig of hair would be utterly useless when making one of tubular crin, but all the crin tutorials I could find involved making ponytails or falls rather than rooting it to a head shape. However, yarn wigs are popular and relatively similar. With that in mind, I set out to find some crin, a wig head, and a wig cap.

Note: This is entirely the wrong kind of wig cap.

hair net 1
hair net 2

I decided to use it anyway, because what the heck, if it works it works, right? Wrong. Stitching the crin to the cap didn’t seem to be holding so well:

hair net bad idea 1

Then I browsed some more yarn wig tutorials and discovered I already had an alternative: a bit of pantyhose. I cut the foot off, stretched it over the head, and began stitching:

Note that, yet again, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. None whatsoever. Eventually, stitching became increasingly tedious, so I decided to experiment with hot glue. It works well enough, but you have to remember to wiggle the cap a little to loosen it from the styrofoam as the glue dries, lest the wig be glued to the head.  However, hot glue is HOT, and crin isn’t solid; this WILL burn your fingers if you’re clumsy like me.

As I kept working, I realized I probably should have started with the bottom layers and put in the highlights last. Whoops. So I started methodically adding the darker strands:

At some point I realized that if I put the glue on the crin first, let it cool halfway, then pressed it to the stocking, it would both hurt my fingers less and be less likely to adhere to the styrofoam head. I still ended up running my fingers underneath after every few strands to make sure it loosened.

Then, when all was said and done…

It didn’t go on my head! The darned thing just won’t fit on my head, it keeps popping off.

So I don’t think I like this stocking method. I think I’m going to see if I can glue the stocking onto a beanie  for shape. Anyone got a better idea?

Dec 082013

So, I haven’t done stage makeup in years, not since I graduated with my BA in Drama. But, since I got out the kit for the Halloween special, I figured I might as well demonstrate another trick: making a nose seem broken.


You Will Need:

  • Nose & Scar Wax
  • Spirit Gum
  • “Bruise” makeup

Step one is to coat the nose liberally in spirit gum to help the wax adhere:

pic 1

Next, roll a ball of wax and adhere to the nose:

pic 2


You’ll want a makeup palette like this one from Ben Nye:pic 3

Yellow and purple make for bruise colors, and the red looks more “wound-like”. See:

pic 4 pic 5


Voila! Looks like he took a pretty good hit, huh?

Sorry this was short, I’m busy working on my next surprise 😉

Nov 242013

Sorry this took so long to get up. Here’s a step by step as to how I did Bob’s head wound for the halloween special; I meant this to go up just after Halloween but with my car accident, my whole schedule has gone into disarray. (Nobody was hurt, and I finally have a replacement car, but I missed out on some work I had to make up and generally fell way behind in my blogging).

Anyway, so! To apply one of those latex fake wounds, something like this from Ben Nye:

Generally you want to stick it on the face before applying foundation, so you can use the foundation to mask the edges of the prosthetic. As I did here:

just the item

Then apply foundation. In this case, he was being a ghost, so I used super pale white makeup for a foundation:

starting to apply color

With a light layer of foundation on (I planned to apply more later to help mute the blood color), I applied dark coloring to the edges of the wound: red for blood, purple and black for bruising. I use ben nye cream makeups for this, and some stage blood that came with the wound for a fresher, wetter blood look. (It claimed to clot “just like real blood!”, so I let that be the top layer).

Applying Color (1)

color 2

Then, to top it off, I broke one of those little vampire-blood capsules and let it drip from the wound itself:


Tadah! Freshly dead bob!


Some more white to finish out the ghost effect:

Whited Out Red Eye

(See how the wound looks older with the foundation on it?)

And there you have it: The making of Booberry Bob.

Oct 132013

We’re at Pandoracon this weekend! I’ve tweaked Nettie’s outfit a little at the last minute; you’ll have to wait until the con photos go up to see the final versions I’m afraid, but here’s a handful of tweaks I did:

Hoop skirt

Remember how in the undergarment article  the white petticoat stuck out a bit under the black skirt? I’ve replaced it with a hoop skirt, which has the advantages of being cooler and being seen less due to less layers. It’s adjustable, too, which is nice. Hopefully that works out for me.

Oversized corset

I bought the next size down. It borders on too small and still wrinkles and bends and conforms to the bulges in my body too well to look right. I’ll stitch a modesty panel in it and wear it over the other one, or possibly the larger one over the white one as before. I won’t be buying from Corset Chick again 🙁


I had meant to get garters and a garter belt, but unfortunately I’ve run out of time. I’ve bought some nice lacy hose instead, though it’s going to be tricky to wear — I’m going to have to roll the top down pretty far so it isn’t under the corset so I can pee 😐 For future reference, ALWAYS consider peeing before you get into a costume you plan to wear more than a few hours. ALWAYS. At my wedding reception I had to have my mother guard the stall while I hiked my dress and petticoat up to almost my boobs, and I was scared the whole time I’d get something damp 😐

Calling Card

I had one printed up! And this time, unlike Erika’s, it’s the proper dimensions I wanted. Yay!


Calling card front (I’m sure photos of the actual card will be coming soon)

So that’s basically the changes I made! Back next week with more costuming updates in general. 🙂