Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Queen Etherea

Oh Queen Etherea. I wracked my brain for months trying to sort through all the possibilities of how to pull this off. Why you may ask?
Well, she appears to be naked under this diaphanous dress. Now, I decided that I would not be walking around nude except for this dress- so what to wear underneath that was not noticeable? Thong? Stick on underwear? Tape the dress to my body? Leotard? Bodysuit? Bodysuit is what I settled on.
I looked into dancer foundations, but I didn't feel right about being the "spandex speaker" at the NCA Con and showing up with a store bought bodysuit- so I decided to make it.
I had to decide what exactly to make the bodysuit out of, powermesh? spandex? etc, etc. I resolved that I needed as opaque spandex as I could get- the color I went with was a little darker than my actual skin tone, but I thought the tanning-bed color would be better than ghost-white.
I was also very concerned about too many seam-lines giving away that I was wearing the bodysuit- my mission with this costume was: to make people do a double take; to make them doubt for a second that I was not wearing anything beneath the dress.

So, in order to make a bodysuit with as few seams as possible I needed to draft an ordinary bodysuit pattern and then eliminate the front and side seams. This would leave me only with the armholes (which I was not worried about because there are noticeable seams on the dress) the center back seam (necessary to place a zipper and get into it) and the inside leg seams. This bodysuit pattern soon turned into a monstrous looking thing. Luckily my kitchen has an abnormal amount of floorspace. Here is everything prepared for cutting:
The fabric is in a single layer, as the body pattern is all that one piece! The pointy edges are the crotch, and the U-shaped parts are the armhole. The sleeve was the only piece that needed to be moved and cut again. I prefer to cut on a table any day, but this project was just too big and slippery. Cutting on the floor is hard on my knees, and it puts my prized project in prime pouncing/scratching reach of my crazy cat- but she was good and stayed clear. I actually had to take in the sleeve length and take some fullness out of the sides of the torso, but otherwise the fit was pretty good. That is always a challenge with stretch fabric- there really is not an equivalent of muslin for stretch (or there are too many types of stretch) fabrics- so it is difficult to do fittings before one gets to her good fabric.
Since this had so few seams it did not take long to sew. I sewed it on the serger using a 3-thread overlock seam, and closed the back with a 14" invisible zipper which was just long enough. I even took the time to hem all of the edges, which I sometimes don't do for the legholes, especially if I am going to be wearing boots. Also, I made this after I made the dress.
Onto the dress. I traced my sloper to make the dress pattern, I made it a bit longer than I knew I wanted, because it's always better to have more fabric than not enough. I scouted for this fabric last year, and I was very particular. I wanted something white, see-through, a little stretch, not shiny, and the mesh had to be "just right". I found the perfect fabric from SkateDesign, they sent very generous free samples, and I was very happy with the purchase.
The knit chiffon was a little slippery to cut out and handle, but I have dealt with worse. The edges also curl after cutting, but it was a simple design, not a lot of seams. The fabric was easy to sew once I got my serger setting under control- I used a 2-thread narrow overlock seam for all the interior seams, and a rolled edge for the hems. I purchased white pleather for the "strategic stripes", and I played around with the stripe width and placement.
This way I was able to block out all the stripes in tape, baste the dress together, put it on, and adjust the placement so it covered exactly where it was needed. (no, there are no pics of that)
From there I made the pleather patterns and cut it out.
I then struggled to sew the pleather down onto the chiffon. The metal sewing machine foot tends to stick to the vinyl and it doesn't feed nicely. Since the chiffon is delicate I didn't want to use too much pressure on the machine. I mostly just used tear-away interfacing on top of the pleather, and that helped.
I sewed the rest of the dress together- the only tricky part was the collar, also had to add a slit and snaps in the back in order to get it over my head. Then, onto the crown. I actually made a pleather crown with foam and craft wire on the inside, but it looked too squishy- so I went back to the old milliner method.
First, here is the paper pattern for the finished size. 
Here is the milliner wire for the frame, buckram for the shape, and the pleather cover.
 Here I bend the wire into the shape the crown.
 Here is the wire ends into the wire joiners and I use a jewelry crimping tool to secure it.
The joined piece of wire ready to be attached to the buckram.
Here is the bottom part of the frame completed. The circle of wire is joined to the buckram.

Here is the top of the frame.
The background is actually the floor of Washington Dules airport. I worked on this during my travels to the NCA Convention in Pittsburgh. I finished the crown on my flight to San Diego where I was going to wear it. Hubby and I were separated until our connecting flight in Phoenix. I was sitting toward the back of the plane, and when people were queuing up for the bathroom they watched me with fascination. I also captivated the attention of Vineeta my seat neighbor and new friend.
Perhaps you have read the rest of the story, I was able to display this costume at the Masquerade at SDCC. Many of my fellow Masqueraders complimented me, and fell for my "naked" ploy........did you??


Interview: I'm around minute 6:00

1 comment:

  1. Looks like you had a great time!! and both Dr. Girlfriend costumes came out great, as per usual!