Monday, June 30, 2014

Yes I Made That Dress: Wonder Woman

Aside from writing and doing character interviews, I actually have another huge hobby: making costumes.  These entries are meant to be image heavy, going through the different methods I use to make my costumes.  If you have questions about how I do any of it, feel free to ask! 

Some history:
I learned to sew originally back with my grandma as I was growing up.  I generally don't count sewing clothes onto Barbie dolls that I then had to cut off sewing, but I suppose it is, because it still involved a needle and thread.  In college I rediscovered it as something to keep my hands busy while I was waiting for RPG friends to post their lines.  And hey, I'd just been to an Anime Convention for the first time and I saw all these amazing costumes and I wanted to try it.   So now, I'm deep into it and completely lost in sewing and so happy ^__^.

Earlier this year, my partner of over 12 years decided to try her hand at designing a few dresses, hats and hoodies.  I've since made several of the hats and a couple of the hoodies, even sold a few.  So when the talk of Wonder Woman came up as a costume, it only made sense to go toward her sketch, rather then look at the normal and well known bathing suit.  So above is what she sketched.

In my history of making costumes, I've developed a specialty of making large ballgown dresses, because I have my own preferences for them on plus sized women.  That and, heck, they turn out so pretty I can't help but love them.  (I've also never really liked pants and to this day I royally suck at making them.)  So again, another point toward making this dress. 

Making the Dress

Queue derpy picture of me in my basement work area.  Next to me are all of my supplies for the dress: missing only thread, the red fabric for the top and the gold we used for the W.  You may not believe it, but this dress was made in about 2 days, and was super simple - but only because I've made about 20 or so ballgowns before.

I use store bought patterns and I've never learned how to draft my own.  I am slowly learning how to draft them with stuffed animals, but it'll be a WHILE before I get up to clothing status.  In the meantime, I have a collection of patterns from all different brands which I mix and match for specific pieces.  For this one in particular I used a Simplicity pattern for corsets and petticoats.  I honestly only used the large skirt piece and added length and an extra panel to it, so I could make sure the dress fit around the massive hoop skirt we already have.  

I cut out the panels and sewed them together, then also did the same with the patterned part of the skirt which was quilting cotton she picked out.  Made ruffles with the standard method and finally pinned it around my dress form to make sure it would all fit around the hoop skirt and looked right. 

The middle front triangle is not actually attached, it's meant to tuck into place each time so I don't screw up the elastic that the skirt is on.  I also did this so I can easily repair it if needed, since it was my first time trying the white star badges.  The main skirt and patterned one are attached - because the less pieces to put on during the convention, the less of a chance I'll forget to pack pieces ^_^;;;

Next came a trick I'd seen on a lot of wedding dresses that I wanted to try.  I sewed four wrinkles into the dress - and I don't know their technical name.  Basically just bunched up the fabric where I wanted and sewed it in place so it comes out with this awesome folding pattern.  We considered adding more, but it seemed like a bit much with the triangle piece above.  So I've filed that away to try on another dress in the future.  I'm very happy with how this came out and how super fancy I think the skirt looks.  Not bad for about a day and a half of work!

The top was done on stretchable jersey fabric, with the golden patterned fabric found in a clearance isle.  It's got this awesome rippled pattern on it that I love.  I have a not-so-secret love for adding patterns on my large dresses because I think it looks even more fancy then just flat colors.  This is totally a leftover from making so many Gankutsuou cosplays in the past, and I have no intention on stopping.

Above, you can see that I cut out the W and pinned it place, then marked the lines to sew.  I used the quilting applique technique and made sure both fabrics stretched in the same way.  The result is a top that is actually a sleeve for her corset, so she can just slide it on and off and it'll match the shape the corset makes.  This is my fix for not wanting to buy a new corset for this costume, because I'm cheap/creative like that. 

And so, ta dah!  Here is the finished dress with her posing down in my work area.  I have to work on tucking it a bit better around the waist when I help her get it on, but we're both super happy with it, even though it deviated a little from her sketch.  She approved of all the changes and even liked that I added all the ruffles to it.  (Obviously before the con it'll be ironed out so it looks better, no worries!)

Bonus Cosplay: Wonder Girl!
In making the top of the main dress I realized that I'd bought a heck of a lot more red then I needed (this is a thing for me, see those cabinents behind her?  It's all scrap fabric, oops!)  So this time, instead of cutting it and just tossing it in a pile, I asked if she wanted me to make it into a dress.  With the go ahead I had her put on the corset and then pinned the dress around her until it looked right.  Took it off and sewed up the spots I pinned and here's what we got.  We added the lasso for a bit more detail on the side so the folds didn't look so unintentionally messy.  So now she can do her own little transformation sequence at the con from Wonder Woman to Wonder Girl!

These costumes will be premiered at CONvergence 2014.  If you're going, look us up!  I hope to have my costume done too, but that's for another entry....


  1. LOVE IT!!!!! I want so badly to do a "big dress cosplay" (aka a gown of some sorts, with a hoop skirt. They're just so darned fun!) Oh, and the wrinkles you added are called pick-ups. ;) Great for shorter over skirts like you did, but on floor length skirts that get stepped on, they tend to get pulled out, just a heads-up!

    1. Sweet, thanks for the name of those. This one is high enough that she wont step on the skirt, so it should be fine, but I'll keep an eye out. And yes! You should do a huge ball gown! I want to see you in one!

    2. I have all the patterns & the hoop to do Faye's costume gown from Cowboy Bebop. (The Western episode.) But Brian changed his mind before I started it. *grumble*