This morning, a reader posted a question to my Facebook Page (Costuming):
“Hi! Skate dress question for you… in the book you illustrate beautifully several options for skirts but don’t go into circle skirts much… unless I missed it. Any suggestions regarding figuring out sizing and how to cut them out?”
I started replying in a comment. After a while, I decided that a wall of text wasn’t going to cut it – this requires photos. So, here we are!
Before I get started, a bit of a disclaimer: This tutorial is going to be for a quick and dirty way to do it, with the most basic equipment possible. Just paper, a ruler, and a pen/marker is all you really NEED to draft a circle skirt. Much like most things with sewing – and life, I guess – there are optional items you could buy, that will make you life easier. After the base tutorial, I’ll discuss a few of them. Again – TOTALLY not necessary, just nice. If you’re going to be doing a lot of costuming, they will be items well worth the investment.
On that note, another disclaimer:
This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!
Anyway, let’s get to the tutorial!
Before starting the drafting, you need to know:
– The hip circumference (which will be the actual hip measurement of the human, not the pattern (Use hip rather than waist, to allow the wearer to pull it on over the hips)
– How much gathering you want at the waist line of the skirt.
– Desired length of skirt at sides, front, and back (from the waist seam, not the actual waist).
When it comes to supplies, you will need:
Paper – I like wide craft packing paper (office supply stores), or rosin paper (home improvement stores).
A pen or marker
To Draft The pattern
Multiply the hip measurement by whatever factor you want for the gathering. For instance, if you want the gathering to be such that you have twice the fabric as the actual hip, multiply by 2. For 50% more fullness than if actual hip size, multiply by 1.5, etc etc.
Then, take that number and divide that by 3.14 – that gives you your diameter. Divide by 2, there’s your radius. As you’re not likely to end up with a number that’s nice to work with, feel free to round up to the nearest 1/4″. For the sake of example, let’s say you end up with something that ends up becoming 5″, after rounding.
Then, take a large sheet of whatever paper you’ll use to pattern – I tend to use really wide craft paper – and decide if you want to pattern with side seams (half circle) or not (full circle).
For a Half Circle Pattern
Fold the paper in half. The fold is your center line, either front or back – you’ll do this one for each.
You’re likely going to need to square one edge, from that fold, to work on. To do so, draw a line that is 90 degrees from the fold, as pictured. While I like to use a square rule for this – as pictured – you can always use a squared edge of something else to get that line started – even a piece of paper:
Once you have the line drawn, cut through both layers of paper, trimming the raw edge off the end. This new raw edge will become your side seam:
Measure out the radius measurement (5″, in this example) from the point of the fold, to both the folded edge and the raw edge:
You can measure out further points in between, as well – can temporarily fold the folded edge to meet the raw edge, unfold, and use that line as another guide to measure along. For the side with the two raw edges, I find it best to fold each layer in to the center, individually.
Connect all the dots in a smooth curve, this is now your waist line:
Then, starting at the curve you drew, measure out from that circle and mark the side seam length along the raw edge, and the center front or back measurement along the fold:
If these are the same, you can do the same as you did for the waist line – fold it in half one or more times, use the lines as guide on where to measure – always out from the waist line, not the folded center point.
If you’re doing a longer center measurement, you can do all the folds, but there will be more math involved.
For the fold that connected the center fold to the side seams – that is, the line halfway between the fold and the raw edges – mark a measurement that is halfway between the side and center measurements. So, if your side seam is 10 and your center is 15, this would be 12.5* Whatever number you come up with, mark that number next to the mark for the measurement, to keep track.
Then, mark other halfway points the same way. The fold line halfway between that first halfway point and the raw side edge will be the difference between those numbers – so in this case, 11.25. The one between the drawn midpoint and the folded center would be 13.75 in this example, etc.
When you’ve got that all sorted, connect the marks with a smooth curve:
Carefully cut the pattern out – through both layers of paper – and that’s a half circle pattern.
Repeat the process for the other half circle pattern needed, if that center measurement is different.
For a Full Circle Pattern:
Two ways you can do it, and which you pick will depend on the width of the paper you’re working with, and the length of the skirt you’re drafting.
1. Do the above directions, for both front and back. Mark “front” and “back”, tape them together.
This works best if you’re going to be doing a dance length dress, or if your paper isn’t wide enough to accommodate whatever you are doing. Also, this is the easier option if you’re dealing with center front and center back that are different measurements, IMHO.
2. If your paper is plenty wide to accommodate, you can do it all as one piece.
Start by folding the paper in half, long edge to long edge. This will be your center line, front and back. You can mark it as such – to keep track – if you like. Then, fold the fold over itself, dividing the paper in half again. This will form your side lines. Again, feel free to mark them at this point.
As pictured below, the edge closest to the bottom of the image is folded, and the fold extending up from it is the side line:
At this point, feel free to make as many interim -m and equal – folds as you’d like. The longer the skirt seam, the more folds will be helpful (as the distance between marks gets further in between, the further out you go from the center point.) Whatever you’re folding should be in half, and if there’s anything corresponding to that area that hasn’t been folded in half, it should be.
The goal is to end up with equally spaced lines. If you appear to be missing any, make whatever fold needed to add it in.
Once you’ve folded as many times as you’d like, unfold til you’re back to that very first fold. Have that center line fold laid out in front of you, across your work surface. Decide which side (out from the center point) will be the front of the skirt, and which will be the back – this is really only necessary if you have measurements that differ – and mark them as such.
Start by marking your radius measurement out from that center point, along the fold lines.
Connect them all with a smooth curved line. This is now your waistline:
From there, measure your center front measurement out towards the front side of the paper, on that part of the drawn waist line. Measure the center front back out from what will be the center back waist. Then, measure the side measurement from the point of the waist line centered between the other two folds, out from there (ie: directly out in front of you.)
Now, if this is an actual circle of a circle skirt – ie: side, center front, and center back measurements are all the same – you can go ahead and measure that distance out from the waist line, along all the folds. Connect all the marks with a nice smooth line.
If your circle skirt has different measurements for side and center front / center back:
For the fold line that is exactly halfway between the center fold and the side line, mark a measurement that is halfway between the side and center front measurements. So, if your side seam is 10″ and your center front 15″*, this would be 12.5″. Whatever number you come up with, mark that number next to the mark for the measurement, to keep track.
Then, mark other halfway points on THAT part of the skirt (between side line and the same way. The fold line halfway between that first halfway point and the side line will be the difference between those numbers – so in this case, 11.25″. The one between the drawn midpoint and the folded center would be 13.75″ in this example, etc:
Each time you are finding the halfway point between numbers, make sure you’re marking that distance on the fold line that is halfway between the two lines that provided the measurements you’re averaging from.
Once you’re done filling in all the lines on the front quarter of the dress pattern (The front half of the pattern, as you see it), repeat for the back half.
Connect all the points with a smooth, curved line, then carefully cut the pattern out, through both layers of paper.
* These measurements are random and – for most dresses – completely nonsensical. I just wanted to use nice, easy numbers to math with, it’s early in the morning 🙂
Important Note on Cutting the Fabric:
Whether or not you’re doing different measurements for the centers / sides, you’ll want to know where those points fall, when you cut the fabric.
If it’s all the same length – sides, center front, center back – you can mark the center points and the side points of the cut fabric with pins – this will be at the waistline, as the hem doesn’t really need to be divided/marked out**. This will help you evenly distribute the fullness when attaching your skirt.
If you have different lengths, you’ll make your life a lot easier if you not only mark the points with pins, but also label them. I like to keep painters tape on hand for this, marking “center front”, “center back”, “side”, and “side” right next to the pins, as soon as the fabric is cut.
This is especially important when working with slithery, annoying fabrics like chiffon.
** Unless you need center/side points of the hem marked for a design element you’re adding to the skirt, such as applique. In that case, I recommend marking the points on the hem with TAPE, not pins. Pins are far more likely to come out, when you’re dealing with the fullness of the hem edge fabric!
Hope this helps!
Additional Product Recommendations
So, as I stated at the start, there are some products that make you life easier, or just make pattern drafting a bit easier / cleaner / more fun.
You can go small with this – for convenience and/or budget – or larger. Larger is great for when you’re dealing with dance length skirts. Here are two great examples of the type I like – the first is smaller (usually for leather work and such), the second is bigger, and usually used for home improvement projects.
Flexible Curve Ruler
This item is usually used by engineers, but it’s GREAT for the sewing room. I have two sizes, a short one (about 12″), and a longer one (about 36″). You can bend and curve these to come up with a nice, rounded edge to join the points, then use it to trace that line. It’s a lot nicer than connecting the points manually, and allows not only for doing so with fewer interim points, but to do more abstract joins. Want to scallop the edges, but still follow the averaged curve? This is the toy for you!
Listing from shortest to longest:
This is more for general pattern making – especially applique design – but I figure I’ll mention it here, while I’m thinking of it. I am personally not great at freehand drawing curves, so these are great to work with. These come in sets of various styles, but basically similar.
To be honest, I usually just buy based on aesthetic – I personally like transparent, and lean towards blue or green. Here are a few different sets. The last one is a bit different, as a smaller version of some of the fashion curve rules I use. I have one of that type of set, and one like the first 5 examples shown:
So this again is something not as applicable to circle skirts specifically, but very topical – also, the sets usually have a bit of overlap with some of the above items, so it’s good to buy them together to avoid double purchasing something you don’t necessarily need multiples of.
Full disclosure: The set I use is an expensive, aluminum set that I bought a couple decades ago – and I have no idea where from. It looks a lot like the last example listed here. So, these are very similar, but not *exactly* what I use. If anything ever happens to my aluminum set, I’ll be buying one of these as replacements! I’m hard on my tools sometimes, so I’d be going for aluminum again – but I get a ton of use out of them, and – like I said – they’ve already lasted me a couple of decades at this point. If you’re a home user – rather than a business- I think the plastic would be a great budget option!
Rotary Tape Compass
This one is a bit more of an investment – and a single purpose item – so I really only recommend it if you’re doing a LOT of circle skirts that are actual circles. You’d set the first measurement to the radius of the hips, then the bigger measurement would be the radius of the hips PLUS the measurement of the skirt from the waist line – you’d be measuring both of the lengths out from the same point, so it’s important to add that hip radius to the length measurement, when using this tool / method.
I think that’s it! I hope the tutorial and tool recommendations help you out!
Also, if you have any requests for future tutorials, feel free to leave a comment below!
Interested in learning more about sewing for figure skaters? Check out my book “Spandex Simplified: Sewing for Skaters“! In it, you’ll learn everything you need to know about designing and creating spectacular and durable figure skating dresses.
This book is appropriate for beginner to advanced levels of sewing ability, and is written from both a designer, and former figure skater’s point of view. It will teach everything from the basics, to tricks of the trade. “Spandex Simplified : Sewing for Skaters” will prepare the reader to design and make almost any design of practice or competition dress imaginable.
Given the cost of decent competition suits – or even practice dresses! – this manual will more than pay for itself with the savings from just one project!
The entire book is written completely in laymans’ terms and carefully explained, step by step. Only basic sewing knowledge and talent is required. Learn everything from measuring, to easily creating ornate applique designs, to embellishing the finished suit in one book! For a complete table of contents, more information, or to order, click here.
Spandex boot covers are a great way to customize less-than-perfect footwear to work with your costume. You can sometimes buy ready made covers, but personally, I prefer to make my own (I have full instructions available in my spandex cosplay sewing manual – Sewing for Superheroes). It just gives me so much more flexibility on the footwear I can use, and the final effect.
For some costumes – such as this “Peek-A-Blue” one – I’ll build my boot covers right into the tights, for an all-in-one look. The shoes are inserted into the tights, and the whole thing is put on like you would roll up pantihose. It can really complete a look!
The thing is, spandex boot covers can be a weak point in your costume, in terms of wear and tear. Spandex isn’t really meant to be footwear, after all – and all that walking can tatter it quickly. No worries, though – adding a sole to your boot covers is easy, relatively inexpensive, and wildly extends the life of your costume. It protected the seam itself, as well as the fabric under the shoe. Additionally, this creates a nonslip surface – makes your costume safer to wear!
I use a rubberized soling material called “ToughTek” that I purchase on Etsy, here. It comes in several colours, I like to keep a supply of white, black, and beige on hand, so I can best coordinate with whatever I’m adding a sole to.
Here is how I do it.
You will need:
Paper for patterning – either printer paper or craft/tissue paper
Craft paper, parchment paper, or etc to protect your work surface.
Disposable plastic knife, or similar
Clamps, vice grips, masking tape, etc (optional)
Clear Silicone Caulking
2 rolls of masking or packing tape
Small bowl for water
ScotchGard spray (optional, but recommended)
1. Put your shoe/boot inside the cover, being sure to line up the seams where they should go. In this case, that means the long seam goes straight up the middle of the sole, with the vertical seam extending from that seam, up the middle of the instep. Smooth out any wrinkles:
2. Place your shoe/boot over your pattern paper, and carefully trace out the sole shape:
3. If the shoe curls up at the front, be sure to roll forward on the sole when tracing, to get the full shape:
4. Your tracing will likely be rough, like this:
5. Cut out your tracing, cleaning up the edges as you go:
6. Place your tracing up against the bottom of your shoe, to see how well it fits:
7. Trim off any excess, if applicable. In this case, I needed to trim a little from around the ball of the foot:
8. Lay out your soling material, rough side down. (Rough side is up in picture):
9. Trace out your adjusted pattern piece onto the back (non-rubber, fabric) side of the soling material, once:
10. Hold your cut out soling piece against the bottom of your shoe. Make sure it fits well – you want it to cover everywhere that hits the ground, without extending beyond that surface area. Trim any excess, if necessary:
11. Place your adjusted cut piece down on your soling material – fabric side down, facing the fabric side of the main piece. Trace and cut a second, mirror-image piece:
12. Lay out some paper to protect your work surface. This can get messy:
13. Squeeze a fair amount of Shoe Goo out onto the underside of your shoes, being careful to keep it to the area that will be covered by the sole. For reference, this one piece took one entire mini tube as pictured in the last step:
14. Repeat with the fabric side of your cut out sole pieces:
15. Use the flat side of your plastic knife to smooth out the Shoe Goo on all pieces:
16. Allow the pieces to dry a little, 5-10 minutes. Once the time is up, CAREFULLY line up one sole to the appropriate shoe bottom, and apply. Aim to get it right on the first try, as it’s messy and difficult to try to reposition it once placed. Firmly press into place, then repeat with second sole/shoe.
17. Allow to cure for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 to be thorough. I’ll usually just set them up as pictured, so the weight of the shoe holds the sole in place. You MAY need clamps or tape to help, depending on the shoe/boot / shape of the sole:
18. Once the curing time is up, carefully pipe a line of clear silicone caulking around the edge of the soling. Aim to get it on the outside/top edge of the soling, right where it touches the spandex. The idea is to seal the edge of the soling. This may (read: will!) get a bit messy, don’t worry too much though:
19. Set your shoes/boots sole side up in the rolls of tape, as pictured. This will allow everything to dry freely, without getting stuck to work surfaces, etc. Fill a small bowl with water:
20. Dip your finger in the water, and use it to smooth out your line of caulking. Be sure to work it into the area between the spandex and the soling material. Try to get this as snmooth as possible – it likely won’t be perfect – mine usually isn’t – but once it dries, imperfections aren’t very noticeable. There’s a reason we’re using clear caulking, after all!
21. Place your shoes back into the rolls of tape, as shown, and allow to fully dry, 12-24 hours, until silicone is completely clear:
22. Once silicone caulking is completely dry, follow instructions on ScotchGard to treat the boots, if you like – I usually do, as it keeps them looking fresh and new. Be sure to test on a scrap piece of material to make sure nothing weird happens with the Scotchgarding:
When wearing, pull on as usual, and just be sure to adjust the cover so that the sole lays where it is supposed to, in case it shifted while putting it on.
He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake… 😉
Due to the hand painted nature of these ornaments, no two will be exactly alike – expect some variation from the photos shown. To order, visit our Etsy page, HERE
2.5″ Diameter Ornament
3″ Diameter Ornament
3″ Diameter Disk
Set of 10 2.5″ Ornaments
Tolkien Fan? Be sure to check out these other posts:
The One CHEESE Ring
How to make a Hobbit Hole Cat Shelter
Caturday: Tolkien edition
How I Made that: Dwarf Wig
So I’m Dressing My Husband up as Thranduil…
The Two Week Thorin Costume!
How to make Thranduil’s Crown
Smaug the Terrible… I mean, Terribly AWESOME.
I am Fire, I am FRUITY – Smaug Fruit Bowl
Doing the Elf Meme Thing…
Gandalf the Fabulous
This weekend, we went up the shore to Duluth, to enjoy the fall colours. Managed to not take any photos of anything, somehow… but we DID collect some leaves. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making maple leaf roses for the past couple years, ever since seeing them popping up on Pinterest. October is usually my busiest time of year, but with my elbow injury preventing me from sewing… I finally had some free time.
These came together pretty quickly once I figured out what I was doing. All told, it took about 1 hour from the time I first sat down. I soaked the leaves overnight, let them dry to the touch in between paper towels, and then went to it. I folded and wrapped them around lengths of florist wire, using floral tape. Once they were all done, I soaked them with some serious hairspray, and let that dry.
I love how they turned out – a gorgeous bit of fall colours right in my living room! These would be so pretty as wedding bouquets or centerpieces – they did lose some of their vibrancy overnight, though. Thankfully, my husband took these beautiful photos while it was still bright and fresh!
What do you guys think? Any plans to make a set yourself?
If you haven’t seen Kung Fury yet, drop what you’re doing and go watch it. This blog post can wait. It’s 30 minutes long, and up on Youtube, HERE.
Isn’t it magnificent? We saw it a few weeks before Convergence, and decided that we needed – NEEDED! – to make a Triceracop costume as a last minute cosplay for the convention. Because, really.
Due to convention rules, this meant purchasing a very cheap looking $26 Police uniform off Amazon as a base. I felt kind of dirty doing do, but you’re not allowed to have a realistic law enforcement uniform. I figured that the overall thing would be fun and glorious enough to offset the potential ding to my costumer’s cred 🙂
To my CREDIT, though… the original seems to be completely CGI, and I was able to do it in real life, looking pretty accurate to the movie. So…
The main part of the costume – the triceratops mask – came together in just a couple of days, without much work at all. I think I had less than 10 hours into this, once you discount all of the drying time.
As with our Smaug costume from last year, I started with a motocrycle helmet as a base. It’s the most sturdy and comfortable option for wearing something like this, and distributes the weight well.
Additionally, my husband was able to drink without taking the helmet off – using a straw!
We had a lot of fun in this thing, and people *lost it* when they saw it. Not bad for a last minute thing. From my husband:
“Making it was fun, I like to help out, so it was good that I could do the epoxy stuff. It’s really cool to see the progress as it takes shape and all of the details get added.
Wearing it is SO much fun. Whether someone is familiar with the character or not, I get smiles from everyone. It’s really quick to put on, easy to wear. You just have to be a little careful through doorways or in crowds, but you quickly get used to that.”
…. So here is how I made it!
First, we re-watched the movie and got some screen captures for reference:
Next, we found an old motorcycle helmet that fit well. Fit is IMPORTANT. Too big will hurt your neck from the weight moving around, too small will be uncomfortable.
Because it won’t be used as an actual helmet, it doesn’t matter if it’s been in an accident or dropped (as long as it’s in decent shape!), so you should be able to find someone selling a dinged one much more cheaply than one that can actually be used for safety.
Before going any further, we sanded the outside of the helmet. Getting the glossy coating off helps the epoxy, etc adhere to the helmet.
Then I built the frame, using a strong wire and electrical tape. Once I was happy with the sizes, shapes, proportions, and placements, I had my husband epoxy it to the helmet in several places. This was just to reinforce the taping, I think it would be fine to skip the epoxy if your tape is holding well.
Then I used dollar store aluminum foil to cover the framework. Bunched up pieces of foil provided a bit of bulk/support in certain areas (chin, the curve from the helmet up to the frill, etc. Additionally, I used tightly crunched up foil to make the base shapes for the bases for the horns, beak, and … whatever you’d call those two pieces that stick out from behind the mouth.
Using plaster tape, I coated the whole thing in 3 layers. Be sure to overlap in different directions for strength.
Once fully wrapped, I let it dry for a a few hours.
Using more tightly crunched foil, I sculpted the horns and used more plaster to attach them firmly to the base. Then I let it dry for a day or two.
I used taxidermy Alligator eyes, coated in Vaseline for protection. I mixed up a big batch of Paperclay, and attached the eyes to the head with it. Used a small piece of Paperclay behind each eye (they’re domed), then sculpted up more Paperclay around each eye for eyelids – this helps hold them in place. Make sure to have both pupils lined up the same way!
I used more Paperclay to add all of the texture details – the mini horns on the frill, the “skin” built up around the base of each large horn and the beak, etc. Thinned down Paperclay spread on the horns and worked smooth allowed for very smooth horns that didn’t require much/any sanding, etc.
Another view. I let this dry for a couple days.
For the first time EVER, I finally obeyed the ventilation warnings on something! Figured I’d killed off enough braincells already, so I sprayed the Plasti-Dip coatings outside.
For my efforts at adulting, I was rewarded with RAIN OUT OF NOWHERE. Luckily, the sculpt was coated and upside down at the time, so it didn’t damage it.
Once all of the Plasti-Dip had fully dried, I carefully peeled it off from the eyes, and wiped off the remaining Vaseline.
For the paint, I mixed several colours of Acrylic paints together to get the right shade of red – kind of brownish and muddy. I mixed it with some Prosaide to create PAX paint (I like the finish it creates), and painted scales all over it. Rough shapes, varied sizes. It was pretty tedious.
Then I mixed some bone coloured PAX paint from a few shades of acrylics – mostly ivory and tan, with just a small amount of gold.I used that to paint the horns. Per the photos, I had it pretty solidly bone colour at the tips, streaking down to a base of more black.
Then I thinned down some black acrylic paint with water and more prosaide, and aggressively shaded it. The idea was to have the black be obvious, but a little transparent to allow the “skin” to show through a little.
Finally, I cut a little piece of dark brown stretch mesh (I didn’t have black on hand like I thought!), and carefully glued it to the inside of the mouth, right up against the mask, as a new visor. This allows vision for the wearer, while blocking their face from view.
The finished helmet/mask, and a photo with our friend Michael as “Kung Fury”:
… and finally, a side by side comparison with the screen shot:
So, that’s how I made it 🙂
In every aspect of our life, my husband and I are very “If you give a mouse a cookie”. A small idea snowballs really quickly, basically… “If we’re going to do X, we should probably go ahead and do Y… and Z… and OMG wouldn’t it be cool if ….?”
That’s basically my explanation for this tutorial, and the project that spawned it. A little background…
Back in 2011, the tornado smashed out one of our garage windows. It’s right by the ground, and totally useless – there’s a weirdly placed fireplace behind it, so no human is getting in or out of it – so it’s been pretty low on our priority list of things to fix. We’d see a cat or two go in and out of it, not a huge deal.
Then last year, my husband heard some noises in the wall when he was in the garage… and discovered a litter of kittens! We socialized them and their mama, and found homes for each of them. Shortly after that, Mama (now “Artemis”, per her new family!)’s sister also had a litter of kittens in there. We were able to hold the kittens once, before she hid them away from us. They all became feral, and lived in and around our garage/yard.
Flash forward to now. We have about 10 ferals living in our yard. They’ve all been named – Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Fili, Kili, Galadriel, Arwen, Celeborn, Beorn – and have their own Facebook fan page: The Feral fellowship. We’ve trapped, neutered, and released MOST of them so far, and are currently raising a small litter of kittens from them (Celebrian, Elladan, and Elrohir) in my husband’s office, and will soon adopt them out.
In the course of trapping, neutering, and releasing, we decided that we should clean up a part of the backyard, near the window they use, and put a small crate out there as a shelter. Maybe we’d plant some catnip. Actually, maybe that crate should be one of these homemade ones that are insulated? If we’re going to go to THAT trouble, why not build one from scratch? What if we make it look like a Hobbit hole? With cat grass growing on top!
… If we’re going to do THAT, maybe we should make a little “patio” of mulch around it – with a little border – so that we don’t have to use the lawnmower up against it. Actually, if we make that area a little bigger, we can surround the little apple tree so that we don’t have to mow around that. A little bigger yet, and we can do the same with the compost bins. Hell, at this point, that whole section of yard may as well be done in mulch, there’s no point bothering to mow the thin little strip that’ll be left… that’s a lot of mulch. Maybe we can sink some pots of catnip into the ground, to look like bushes in their little shire? And add some stepping stones! You know, we may as well add a little pond, so they have a constant source of drinking water…
… and here we are. Proud caretakers of a little feral “Shire”. Here is how we did it:
– 1 round egress Well with matching cover. Ours was about 36″ diameter, and 2′ deep.
– 6′ plank of solid composite decking, in brown. Don’t use the hollow kind!
– Large tube of construction adhesive. (We used Loctite PL 3X Premium Construction Adhesive)
– Outdoor latex paints, tinted yellow and green
– “Cedar” coloured silicone caulking
– Pipe hanging strap
– Screws, bolts, etc
– Cat grass seed
How We Did it
Being careful to line up / center everything, I used a sharpie and a couple of plates to trace circles onto the egress cover for the openings
Then, I drew a rough guide for the “brickwork” around each. I wanted to get an idea of how many bricks I’d need, and what sizes. I ended up needing 24 1.5″ x 2″ bricks for the main door, and 40 1″ x 1.5″ smaller bricks for the two windows.
I had my husband cut the bricks from the plank of decking, using his table saw. He used his jigsaw to cut the holes out of the egress cover. He was careful to get the door out in one solid piece, as I’d be using it.
As he presented me his perfectly cut bricks, he informed me:
“You know what you need to put between each of the brick pieces? MORDOR. I mean MORTAR.”
… what a dork 🙂
Once the holes were all cut, I slathered the whole front facade with a thick layer of construction adhesive. I used a painting sponge to spread and texture it, kind of smacking and pulling it upwards to resemble stucco.
As I finished spreading and texturing around a window, I carefully placed the appropriate sized “bricks” into place around the edge, pushing in to secure in the adhesive.
Once the whole thing was coated, textured, and had all of the bricks placed, I let it dry (cure?) for a couple days.
In the meantime, I spread the door piece with more adhesive, using the sponge and an old paintbrush to streak it into more of a “wooden door” texture.
Once everything was dried/cured, I painted the “stucco” yellow, and the door green.
As I was being artsy in the comfort of our house, my husband slaved out in the yard to clean debris, strip the sod, and level the whole thing. Getting the ground level where the Hobbit Whole would go was important, so it would be stable and fit snuggly against the garage.
I piped the cedar toned silicone caulking around the edge of the windows/door, and in between each brick.
Once it was all piped, I used a wet finger to smooth it all down
Once everything was all cured and dried, it was time to assemble it all.
First, Porter fit the egress cover to the egress well, and marked spots on the egress cover to indicate where the holes on the well would line up. He then drilled these holes, so he could bolt the cover on.
Next, with the cover on to hold the well into the correct curve, he attached two 2×4 planks across what would become the bottom of the structure, to hold it all into place. (Not pictured)
Next, he attached the door. He took the facade off the well to do this. Due to the ridges going on in the back of the facade / door, he had to get creative. He ended up … ah, let me just quote him…
“I used pipe hanging strap (like this ), which is easily bendable and has holes for screwing into things. I used one piece near the center of the door and one strap near the top. It’s just bolted on, I drilled holes in the support strips to mount it.”
He then replaced the facade onto the well, and attached it with 3 or 4 small bolts.
Finally! Time to install the Hobbit Hole into our little feral shire!
We had already completely landscaped the “Shire” by this point – covered the entire area in landscape fabric, installed a small pond, dug holes and sunk 5 little pots for catnip “shrubs”, spread mulch, and laid stepping stones.
We had left a small spot of unmulched area on the fabric, right about where the Hobbit hole would be going. We placed it where we wanted it, then packed some more mulch down into it as a bit of a floor, and to hide the beams underneath.
Then, we mounded a bunch of dirt over it. You really want to pack it in well, and it’ll want to slide a bit. Take your time!
Then, plant a ton of cat grass seeds. I think we ended up using 8 packets, over a few weeks, just getting ridiculous with it. They tend to grow in small clumps, rather than an all-over sod like consistency.
Didn’t manage to get a close up of the soil covered structure, so here’s a view of the whole Feral Shire..
… and then we waited, keeping the soil moist while we let nature take its course. MADDENING!
Once the grass started sprouting, the ferals started to indicate their approval 🙂
Pippin got up there and caused a bit of sliding, which we later repaired:
I think Frodo may have been a little jealous…
… and then Sam wanted to know what was up…
.. and the Kili decided to come hang out with them all…
A patched dirt slide, a few more seeds and a couple weeks later, and voila … one proper feral shelter Hobbit Hole! It was a lot of work, but totally worth it!
It’s been nice to see them hang out in the back yard, fairly carefree. They get along well, have access to fresh water and food, and seem to know thay’re safe here, and free to be cats:
(Bonus: There’s video of Arwen enjoying that catnip.. SO cute! Click here to view it on their Facebook page!)
Be sure to follow The Feral Fellowship on Facebook for tons of cat photos and updates on their lives out back!
By the way, if you’re here because you’re a big fan of Middle Earth… I highly recommend checking out Tol-Con, a Middle Earth themed fan convention coming to Minneapolis in 2016. My husband and I are both involved with it, along with a great team – it’s a fan run convention, and featured themed BANQUETS as part of the ticket! Here is the Facebook page for it. Won’t you join us on our adventure?
Ever since making my husband’s Ronan the Accuser costume, I’ve had a ton of questions about how I did the makeup… so, tutorial time!
When we first saw Guardians of the Galaxy, I KNEW I’d be making that costume for Porter. A day or two later, we did a quick makeup test – using my “Beast” blue makeup, and a tube of really cheap black Halloween makeup to look goopy. It looked good enough to convince me to go ahead with the costume, but was a far cry from what his final makeup would be.
After a couple tweaks to my process since that point, I’ve finally hit on the products and procedures needed for Ronan makeup that stays PUT – not peeling up, etc. There are probably a million different ways to do this makeup – I am NOT a makeup artist, and this is just what works for us.
Big thanks to Josh from ChaManLeon Fx, who filled in a couple missing puzzle pieces for me. I’d originally planned to use crushed up rolled oats, but he told me that “Ash Powder” exists.
Apologies for the crappy cell phone photography – I didn’t want to get makeup all over the good camera while shooting for this tutorial!
First things first… here’s my husband in his Ronan The Accuser costume:
Getting something to eat after a long day in costume… with none of the latex peeling off!
If you’re interested in seeing how the costume came together, I have an album up on my costuming Facebook page, here. That album is the closest thing you’ll get to a tutorial, from me – that costume cost me some sanity 🙂
Now, on to the makeup tutorial!
What you need:
Blue nail polish
Disposable plates / bowls
Paper Towels or cotton balls
2 shades of blue cream makeup (I used Paradise brand)
Super White face powder (optional)
Red lip liner
black cream makeup
Black eyeliner, mascara (optional)
Black food colouring
Southern Comfort or other nicely flavoured spirit.
I like to lay everything out in the order I’ll use it – which is how I wrote them, above. All that experience writing recipes, right? 🙂
First things first: Have your Ronan wash his/her hands and face VERY well, making sure to get rid of any oils that may be present. Dry everything well.
1. Have them put in the contacts – you don’t want them fussing with that after getting the makeup on!
2. Apply a few coats of glue stick to the eyebrows. I like to gently use a back and forth motion the first time, to get the hair completely coated. Allow that to dry, then run another coat on top, going in the same direction as the eyebrow hair.
Once that is dry, block the eyebrows with eyebrow / scar wax. Make sure the hair is completely covered, with as thin a layer as possible. I like to smooth it over with a wet finger to ensure there are no loose edges that can pull up
3. Paint the nails blue. Aim for a blue that’s as close to the finished skin makeup colour as possible.
4. Using a cosmetic sponge, apply a thin layer of Prosaide to anywhere that the black makeup will be – including the line down the front of the neck. Also. carefully brush a thin coat of it over the (dried!) nailpolish. Allow to dry completely.
5. In a disposable plate, bowl, or cup (At conventions, I’ll usually use hotel room paper coffee cups!), mix together some Ash Powder with liquid latex. I usually just eyeball it – a Tablespoon or two of powder, and as much latex as it takes to makee it goopy – almost like oatmeal.
Using a makeup sponge, dab globs of the latex goop all over the area that will be black – across the eyebrows, under the eyes, the streaks down the cheeks, below the mouth, and the streak down the middle of the neck. Take care to not get it in the eyelashes! Allow to dry COMPLETELY.
6. While I’m waiting for that to dry, I like to get started on the blue makeup, because that takes forever. I’ll start with the ears, neck, sides of face… leaving a fair amount of space around the clumpy stuff. I use water based “Paradise” makeup, a lightish blue.
It’s actually not light ENOUGH, but it’s what I could find locally / what I use for my Beast makeup, so we make do and just use white powder later, to dull it down. Ideally, you want something very light, like a periwinkle blue.
7. Once the goop has dried, carefully sponge castor sealer all over the goopy parts, making sure to get it in the little crevices and everything. Use a paper towel or cotton balls to blot excess castor sealer.
8. Continue painting the entire face, ears, hands, and neck area with the lighter blue colour. Check under different lighting to make sure there are no blotchy/ lighter spots.
Optional: If the light blue is too dark/vibrant, use the Super White powder to powder over the whole thing now. (Image on right, below.)
9. Wet the stiple sponge, shake it off, and get just a small amount of the darker blue cream makeup on it, lightly sponge over the entire face and neck area. You’re going for a very subtle texturing effect here. If you get too much makeup on the sponge, or it’s runny… reapply the light blue and start over.
10. Once you’re happy with how it looks, use a big kabuki type brush to apply sealing powder all over everything.
11. Use the red lip liner to draw thin, jagged “veins” in a few places.
12. Carefully apply black makeup to all of the areas that it needs to go, carefully working it into any bumps and crevices in the “goop” application. I keep a printout of Lee Pace’s makeup on hand, and consult it fairly frequently to make sure I keep it looking right.
(At this point, I stopped taking progress photos of the black makeup, whoops!
13. Once you’re happy with the black makeup, apply eye liner and mascara, if desired.
14. For a shinier appearance on the black areas, gently brush on some more castor sealer. Don’t use too much!
15. For the black mouth, I mix together some cake decorator grade black food colouring, with Southern Comfort. (Wilton pictured, because I have it on hand… but Americolor is stronger!).
This kind of food colouring mixes into alcohol better than water (it’s why all my cakes that were hand painted or airbrushed were done so with vodka!). I chose Southern Comfort because it’s sweet and tastes good, and that combats the nasty taste of the food colouring.
Have your Ronan swish this mixture in the mouth for a minute or two, and spit. I like to have extra on hand in a water bottle, for refreshing the colour during the day.
… and that’s it! Now your Ronan is free to cleanse the universe of Zandarians…
… or fist-bump adorable little fans on Free Comic Book Day…
..or just go twerk on stage!
.. with makeup that stays on and looks great all day. Even when ending that long day with a bowl of pho!
|Back in October, I posted a Cosplay Tutorial: Maleficent’s Staff. As Maleficent has been one of the costumes that generates the most email questions for me, seemed like a good idea!
I have been meaning to post a tutorial on how to make the headpiece, but – as it turns out – I didn’t take any photos of the earlier steps. So, here we are with a “How I Made That”, instead!
So, let me first detail what all went on before I thought to start taking photos 🙂
1 – I had a cement casting of my Maleficent model’s head. I greased it up with vaseline, and laid down some wet plaster tape in a rough shape of the base head cap. I did about 3 layers, and let it harden fully before removing it and trimming it to the right shape.
2 – I made the horns. For things like this, I like to start with a base of crunched up aluminium foil – it’s lightweight, easy to form, and holds shape well. I took the time to make two symmetrical horns.
3 – Using thin strips of plaster tape, I wet, wrapped, and smoothed a couple layers of plaster from the tip down towards the base of each horn.
4 – With the cap part centered on the head casting, I used mroe strips of plaster tape to securely affix the horns to the cap base, taking care to keep them symmetrical. Then, I let that harden completely.
5 – Using some “Fast Mache” paperclay, I filled out and smoothed over the horns. Let that dry completely.
6 – I sprayed the horns with Super 77 spray adhesive, and wrapped them with twine. Let that dry completely.
7 – Once the whole thing had dried *completely*, I coated it all with a layer of black Plasti-Dip. This would protect the plaster from outside moisture. Once that was dry, I painted it with black PAX paint, for a nicer finish.
8 – I draped a small piece of textured black fabric (stretchy) over the headpiece, trimming it and cutting holes out for the horns. Once I was satified with how it looked, I sprayed the back of it with Super 77, and glued it down to the headpiece, smoothing out all the wrinkles, etc.
9 – I draped a piece of shiny metallic black lycra over it, trimming to form the “V” trim. Once I was satisifed with the shape and fit, I glued it into place with Super 77, folding edges to the underside of the cap.
10 – Using a larger piece of black metallic lycra, I draped one side of the … I don’t know what I’d call it. Skull cap? Cowl? Sort of? Anyway, draped that on one side, pinning in place.
11 – Used another large piece of black metallic lycra to drape the other side, overlapping the first. Once I was happy with it, I hand stitched the pieces together, sewing right up to the horns to secure everything in place.
For more photos of this stunning costume, head on over to our Facebook page. We have an album for it HERE.
Be sure to “like” my costuming page on Facebook for more progress pics, tips, and other fun stuff: Marie Porter, Cosplay Costumer.
Note: If you’re looking for a quote on custom costuming, please contact me through my costuming page, www.evilcostumeoverlord.com.
As I’d mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I like to make my Tolkien cosplay dwarf wigs from scratch for several reasons. Beyond fit, style, etc.. I like to have matching loose hair available for making beards.
The first time I went out as Thorin, I did the beard right on my face with liquid latex, layer by layer. Looks good, but took TWO HOURS. After doing this twice, I knew I’d need to come up with a better way, something reusable.
Another issue is that I find the liquid latex application doesn’t last very long, and starts peeling off my face early in the evening. Want to eat or drink anything? It’ll peel that much faster.
So, I used a heavier liquid latex to make a more reusable Thorin beard, and it took about 2 minutes to put on. I was able to use Pros-aide adhesive, which holds MUCH better than liquid latex. I’ve since used this method to create the beard for my Beast costume, for the mustache and around the bald spot of Mini Bombur, and now my Dis costume. Here is how I did it:
First off, I prepared my work space with medical exam table paper – this will make a big mess, and it’s nice to be able to just bunch up the paper and toss it when I’m done.
I cut some strips of plaster casting tape into thinnish strips, and set a container of water out. I also set out a pair of gloves, because handling plaster really grosses me out. (Too close to chalk. click here if you’re curious to read about some Aspie issues :0 )
Then I pulled all my hair off my face, greased it up with Vaseline, and built up 3 layers of plaster casting into the beard mould you see here. About 15 minutes later, I made a few faces to loosen up the mould and pulled it off.
While it can be tempting to get started right away, I recommend letting the mould air dry for at least an hour.
As a design note: You don’t need to make the beard mould as big / full as this for the style of beard I’m doing here. I purposely made it very full because the mould is reusable – who knows what kind of beard needs I may have in the near future? 😉
Once the mould has dried, I dusted it with baby powder (because of the vaseline residue) and gave the whole inside a nice coat of a thick, casting latex. I use the #269 flexible casting compound sold at a local supplier. You don’t want to use the makeup style of liquid latex for this, but flexibility is KEY. You want it to move with your face.
Once the first coat of latex has started to get a bit gummy, I set a piece of beige stretch mesh in it, smoothing so there are no folds. This gives a bit of extra strength, while still being flexible. Let it cure with the mesh in it, then add one more coat of casting latex.
Once the latex seems to be dry, gently pull it from the mould. If it sticks or you can see wet latex underneath it, let it dry a bit longer. Set it on the outside of the mould and let the outside of your new beards prosthetic cure for a bit, before trimming rough edges and using sharp craft scissors to trim until the piece is symmmetrical (I just fold it in half and cut through both layers)
Then I held the piece in place and used a marker to draw some rough lines of where I wanted to trim the beard into shape. After trimming, I tried it on again and adjusted until I was happy with the shape and size. Note: This is just the base of the beard – hair will extend down below the actual edge.
When I was happy with it, I used a couple small clamps to hold it on place on the outside of the mould.
I coated what would be the underside of the chin with some Liquid latex (Ben Nye), and started laying the hair. While the makeup stuff isn’t good for the base, it’s perfect for the glue, especially as it sets up MUCH faster than casting latex does.
I start at the front corner/edge of the chin, gluing loose lines of hair down, with the loose, cut edge of the hair facing the front of the chin. I work my way backwards towards the neck, bit by bit.
Once I’m happy with the chin hair, I trim the front edge so it lines up with the chin/jawline of the mould.
Then I continue applying hair in loose, layered rows, working up to the top edge of the beard. I used hair cut to lengths MUCH longer than I figured I wanted, because it gives me more flexibility for trimming/styling. Much easier to remove hair, than to add it!
Take note of direction when you’re placing your rows – I started out aiming them straight down, but ended up adjusting so the pointed slightly towards the center. For my Beast costume, I had the hair aiming outward. It all depends on what look you’re going for.
Take a look at your beard and make sure everything is symmetrical enough. While the latex is setting, you have a little bit of time to gently nudge hair in a different direction.
Once I was satisfied with the sides of the beard, I attached layers of much longer hair to the center front, working my way up front the chin. This is the part that I had plans to braid. If you’re not doing a long center braid, you can just cover this part while you’re doing the sides.
I used double sided tape to try the beard on.. as planned, it was WAY too long. I trimmed it a bit before trying it on with the wig, for a better idea of what it would look like. Decided it was still too full, so trimmed a bit more.
Here is a photo of where it’s at right now. That bead is a placeholder, until my Fili bead arrives from Dwarvendom on Etsy.
So, it’s ALMOST done! Still need to trim it a bit more, but I want to wait until the gown is done so I can see the whole thing together before deciding how much more to take off.
To wear it, I stick it on with Pros-aide, let that dry a bit, and then tidy up the edge with makeup and/or gluing on a small amoutn of hair to hide the edge… depending on my mood 🙂 As pictured, this is just held on with a couple strips of double sided tape for an idea of what it will look like.
Be sure to “like” my costuming page on Facebook for more progress pics, tips, and other fun stuff: Marie Porter, Cosplay Costumer.
Note: If you’re looking for a quote on custom costuming, please contact me through my costuming page, www.evilcostumeoverlord.com.
As I’d mentioned in Part 1 of this series, Dwarf wigs for Tolkien cosplay have a unique set of challenges when it comes to obtaining them: commercially available wigs don’t have right texture, as they’re smooth and silky, not rough and with a bit of kink/frizz. Additionally, when making dwarf wigs, you need them very full, and you want extra hair available for making extra wefts, braids, beards, etc. It just makes sense to make the wig from scratch.
While a standard way of making wigs from scratch is to build on a weave cap, that doesn’t work for me – I have a LOT of hair to hide under the wig, so weave caps never fit me.
Instead of using the wig cap as-is, I decided that I would use the outer edge/border of it (which would fit, if not for the main body of the cap not being full enough), with straps of elastic sewn onto it, Arda-style (rather than a full mesh base). I’d never done anything like it before, and winged it the whole way.
It was a ton of work – and my finger tips were raw for days afterward – but now I have the best fitting wig I’ve ever owned! Here is how I did it:
First, I tried on the weaving cap that would serve as the (partial) base for this new wig, and determined how much size I was missing, and where. I needed about 3″ of extra fullness front to back, and 1.5″ from side to side.
I checked an Arda wig we had on hand to get an idea of how many front-to-back strips are usually used, and sewed a few strips of elastic in place to the front of the weave cap, situating the ends of elastic / seam on the reinforced section of the cap. I pinned them in place on the back, fussing with the lengths, until I had something symmetrical that looked like it would fit. (That is, I measured the middle elastic to be 3″ longer than the section of wig cap it would be over, then tapered down the lengths of the strips on either side to create a decent shape). O
Once I was satisfied with the size/shaping of this new base, I sewed the ends to the back of the weaving cap.
I placed the cap on a wig head. Note – This is WAY too small for any human head, so I was careful to stretch it over, pin it in place, and be mindful of the fact that I was basically *freehanding* it the whole way.
Starting at the very back of the wig, I sewed a short piece of weft to the back flap of the wave cap, and another one just under 1″ higher than that one.
I kept sewing wefts, aiming to keep them about 3/4-1″ apart at the center of the wig cap. As I began each weft, I measured across the section it would be coving, taking care to not squish down the vertical strips of elastic that they would be sewn to. The ends of each weft were sewn down very close to the previous weft ends.
As I sewed each weft, I would stitch it down to the first inch or so of weave cap, then knot it off before only sewing the weft to the vertical strips, distributing the length of weft evenly across the strips, holding the strips in place, not pulling them off to either side.
Once I got about 1/3 of the way up, I took the cap/partial wig off the wig head, pulled all of the pins out, and trimmed out the excess wig cap from under my strips. I had enough wefts sewn on to hold everything in place, so it was time to try it on.
Here is what it looked like on the inside:
I tried it on, with my hair under a wig cap, as I would when wearing the wig. As it turned out, one side was a little long, so I pinched the difference on those pieces and pinned them down in the front. I would later sew them down, as I got closer to it. (Wasn’t in the mood to sew them when I pinned them, so I procrastinated. )
I continued sewing wefts to the strips, trying to keey the curves of the wefts consistent with the shape of the remaining wig cap.
Eventually, I came to the front flap of the wig cap. Based on my design, I sewed one last weft, and cut it off there. This would be where there would be a very obvious part, which I would be covering with a braid.
I cut the elastic down on a few remaining wefts to be about 1/2 the width they started with, to remove some bulk when sewing the “bangs” in. Starting at the front edge of the wig cap, I sewed these down, much closer together than the main wefts had been.
The final bangs weft was sewn so that the edge of it touched the edge of the final weft from the main body of the wig.
Now that the wig was completely done, I gave it a quick brushing to remove any loose hairs, and got started with styling it. I wanted a combination of two strand twists, and 3 strand small braids coming from the front, which would start just under the braid across the bangs. As I braided and twisted, I was careful to not take too much hair from any location – I didn’t want wefts / cap to show from underneath, as bald spots.
Additionally, there would be a large, thick braid from the center of the wig, extending down the back. Inspiration struck, and I taught myself how to do a 4 strand braid. This was the first I’ve ever done – i didn’t even have to take it out and redo! Was very proud of that.
After braiding the larg braid and typing it off with a strip of elastic (more on that later), I started looping the mini braids around the back, and over/under each other and the main braid, sewing everything in place.
I was careful to keep both sides symmetrical to each other – brad length, size of the loop, where it laid, etc.
The fat main braid was much too short for the actual wig (as I suspected it would be), so I made a separate braid from additional braiding hair, with a clear elastic holding it together at the beginning of the braid. I love how it formed brown and black diagonal stripes. Should I say “I meant to do that”? LOL. I have no idea how it happened. That is literally the second 4 strand braid I’d ever made.
I inserted the top of this loose braid into the main body braid, right under some of the mini braid looping, and sewed it down thoughout the length of the remaining end of that original braid, if that makes sense. Aside from being slightly bigger than the original braid, you totally can’t see the transition. Kinda shocked myself!
I didn’t take progress shots of this next part, so I’ll describe.
The bangs were to be separated with a part up the center. I didn’t worry about the wefts showing / bald spot, as I intended to have a chain and large fake sapphire jewel sewn down in it.
I twisted the hair on either side of the part backwards, and out/back towards the ear. I tied each side off and sewed it back behind where the ear was, allowing the remaining ends to hang down as ponytails.
Then I braided some additional loose hair into yet ANOTHER 4 strand braid, tied the ends off with small, clear elastics, and sewed that across the bangs/main hair part, and over the tied-off sections of the bangs, behind the ears. The ends of the braid were sen down a bit behind the ears, completely hidden by the main hair.
Then, I divided those two ponytails into 3 equal sections anbd braided them. Not only wasthis a handy way to deal with that excess hair, it’s a bit of a nod to Thorin’s design – he had one such braid on each side, each pulled forward with a bead on the end.
Though not shown in this pic, I ordered 6 “Kili” beads from Dwarvendom on Etsy. (I also ordered one “Fili” bead at the same time, for the beard)
Finally, I attached the jewel to a chunky chain that I liked, and worked the ends of the chain up under the “headband” braid, and around the back, to be secured together with a jump ring under the thick main braid.
…. and done! Tomorrow, I’ll post a “How I Made That” for the beard that accompanied this.
In the meantime, be sure to “like” my costuming page on Facebook for more progress pics, tips, and other fun stuff: Marie Porter, Cosplay Costumer.
Note: If you’re looking for a quote on custom costuming, please contact me through my costuming page, www.evilcostumeoverlord.com.