Monday, November 24, 2014


Promised I'd be back, and here I am!

Its been a crazy few months. In just over a weeks time we'll be packing up house again and moving back to my home town. I'm glad I was able to finish this costume before then!


On my list of Disney-related costumes, I always wanted to attempt this cute fairy. I thought* it would be a simple, cute costume to make in between big projects.
*I was wrong.

I do enjoy challenges, no matter how much I swear and roar and sulk. I wanted Tink's dress to be boned for support, with embroidered leaf details and a corset back to give room of sizing. I loved the rhinestone and leaf-wrapped look of the Disney parks dress, but I also wanted something a little more 'cheeky' as I always imagined the original Tink to have a bit of sexy sass. (If you read that too fast the 's' in front of sass seems to vanish... lol)

The first and only place to start was a pattern. But I couldn't find any I liked: nothing seemed to look right to me.
Luckily, my good friend Tamara came to the rescue. She's the corset-making queen who helped me make my first corset! In two-seconds flat she had a corset pattern for me that I could alter into a dress pattern. (Thank you Tamara!!)

So I started altering the pattern. Which took a lot longer than I anticipated. In the end I did 4 mock-ups, changing the pattern each time. First mock-up was too small, second was too long, third still didn't sit right, and fourth finally (appeared) to have the elements I liked. It was also about getting the dress 'points' at the bottom to look correct and sit at the height I desired. I estimate in the end it was about 6 hours of pattern-making, mock-ups and altering! It wasn't a pleasant (or patient) experience, but it was a great way to learn.
The basic mock-up which I was happy with!

So now it was time for the lining. I found a cotton in dark green with no stretch, as I wanted it to be strong to support the boning. The pattern had a half-inch seam allowance which would be folded over to create boning channels in the lining, so the lining itself had to be tough! I tossed up adding interfacing to the lining but in the end decided against it- for both time constraints and laziness were factors. In the end it help up fine so I'm not fussed that I didn't add it.

The lining pieces were sewn together, and I used an iron to help fold over the seam-allowances. The pattern allowed for a seam down the centre front, which I didn't add to the outer layer for aesthetics, but it meant the lining could have boning down the centre!
Here you can see all the boning channels after they were ironed and pinned in place ready for sewing.

With the help of Mikey (I hate cutting the boning...) we cut out and capped a bunch of spiral steal bones. I had measured their lengths previously to guarantee they would sit just on my hips- not above or below- when they were inserted into the channels.

I closed the top of the boning channels, slid the coordinating boning into their places and sewed the bottom of the channels closed.
And that was the lining completed!

Next was the fun part: the outer fabric. I had found a velvet in the fabric store that was a dappled green- it reminded me of sunlight through a tree. It was a darker green than Tink's usual dress, but I just fell in love with this fabric and HAD to use it. It was on the expensive-side, but the quality was amazing.

I started by making up a new pattern. Ugh. The new pattern had the half-an-inch seam allowance removed. But it had to be done because I didn't trust myself with the old pattern: just 'guessing' where the half-an-inch allowance was while sewing the new fabric could lead to disaster, and I didn't want to risk it. Better to be meticulous.

With the new pattern, I cut the outer fabric (with no seam on the centre front), and sewed it all together. I had previously borrowed an overlocker from a friend but had to return it, so I went over the seams with a zig-zag stitch on my machine. Velvet sheds A LOT in the seams, so I wanted to make sure it was sturdy. I have millions of tiny green balls around my house now from the fabric clinging to my clothes.

After a quick check: pinning the layers together to make sure they sit ok- it was all about the embroidery! I unpinned the layers and got the outer fabric ready.
I had done some quick sketches of where I basically wanted the embroidery to go (following a rough guideline of Disney's park dress) but toward the end of the embroidery I just went free hand and put the details where I liked.
Initially I thought I would have to hand-embroider it all. The thread I had found was a iridescent polyester- I could break it easily if I stretched it- so I didn't think it would hold up under the tension of a sewing machine. A part of me regrets choosing this thread, but it was SO pretty I couldn't stop myself...

In the middle of embroidering!

Despite my hesitation, I gave the thread a go in the sewing machine. And it managed ok! It did break a few frustratingly-consecutive times, at which point I would just get up and walk away so I wouldn't pull out my hair. Re-threading it was a pain in the behind, as the polyester curled and made it super difficult to hook into my machine.
Somehow, though, I managed to embroider the whole outer dress on the machine. It did take me a while (and I dont have an embroidery machine so I just used zig-zag stitch and straight stitches, haha!) but I was really happy with the result. The iridescent thread reflected the green beneath but sparkled an array of colours. Some of the smaller threads were harder to see from a distance, but the thick 'leaf' threads looked great!

Finally, I could attach the two fabric layers together. I pinned them across the top and sewed them together; making sure when they were right-side-out the boning channels/seams would be between the layers and not on my skin. I flipped them open, pressing the seams toward the lining and then stay-stitched across the top.

At this point, I figured I should do some fitting tests (as currently I had just been draping it onto my model) because the next step was adding the white steal bones and eyelets to the back of the dress. I'm glad I checked, because somehow (like usual!) I had made the dress too big.

I cut out an inch from each side of the back of the dress, then sewed them together from the top of the dress to half-way. I left the bottom open for the moment, as I wanted room to slide the last bones in.
I sewed the first boning channels close to the seams on both sides, then left a 2.5cm gap and sewed the second one. I slid the bones in to check there was enough room (lol) and then got Mikey to cut them to the right length. We made sure to curve the edges as the white steal can be quite sharp!
Before I added the final bones, I spent an evening putting eyelets into the gap between the back-boning channels. I'm getting better at putting them in! Well, maybe not better, but faster! Haha!
Eyelets getting put in...

Finally I slid the white bones in, and closed the ends of the boning channels. I made a small modesty-panel and added that to the right side of the dress, hiding the seams in the boning's seams.

Agh, so close to being finished!
I sewed the dress closed at the back, and then hemmed the pointed skirts. At first I considered hand-sewing the hem to hide the thread, but gave up the thought because I'm lazy. Instead I turned over the seams- so the velvet curled over the lining- and did a simple straight stitch. It turned out quite well because the velvet does a good job at hiding the green thread!
The back finished (with wings for effect!)

I had a finished dress! But it wasn't entirely completed...
I spent a whole day adding rhinestones! I thought it would be quick and easy to add them- boy was I wrong. Being so careful to not get glue on any other part of the dress, I added them one-by-one. I had a variety of sizes so I tried to add interesting clusters at points of the embroidery, especially at the embroidery that was harder to see from a distance.
Adding rhinestones.

Once that was dry (I left it for 24 hours as the glue suggested, but it dries in a few hours) I laced the dress with some olive-coloured cord and it was FINISHED!

But, Tink isn't Tink without her iconic puff-ball shoes.
Luckily I had some old round-toe shoes with a small wedge heal. They were tan in colour with fake suede material- so I covered them with scraps of my green velvet. I used PVA glue- which I was a little worried about, as although they (in theory) would stick well together as they were both fabric, I didn't know how long it would hold up. I did sneak some super glue into the seams around the top and bottom of the shoe, just in case. And I used the same super glue to stick two big white puff-balls to the front of each shoe! Then I scattered some rhinestones on the shoes to help cover the seams and tie them in with the dress. And they were done!
Puff-ball shoes!

Lastly I styled the wig. I made a little hair tie out of scrap velvet- like Tink has the the Disney Fairies books (which I love!) and sewed it loosely to the bun so it wouldn't slide around.

My wings I purchased from Fancy Fairy Wings- I really recommend her for amazing, one-of-a-kind (and replicas of famous fairies!) beautiful wings! I got size Medium for Tinkerbell, and although I was tossing up getting the Large, I'm glad I got the Medium. They are the perfect size!

And finally, here are some finished photos:

 Photo courtesy of JatsTV

 Photo courtesy of Charlie from I Got Superpowers

(And the back just because I didn't get any photos of it that day...)

Like I said, I was going for a more 'cheeky' Tinkerbell- and I underestimated how big my boobs would look in the dress. Eep. But I shouldn't complain because the dress looked wonderful!

Time to Complete:
It took me about 3 weeks to make- but there were many many distractions which prevented me from working on it consecutively each night. The pattern took the longest! I'd say, if I was working on it all day with no distractions, it probably would've taken me 5 days to complete the whole costume.

In total I would say this costume was about $350, but only because the wings bring the price up! Haha! The fabric and threads were $60 altogether, and the boning was some I already had stashed away for future projects. The rhinestones cost me $15 with shipping and I still have a ton left over. The wig and wig-bun were $60 with shipping from Arda, and the shoe-puffs were $4. All the glues (rhinestone and pva) I had already in my stash.

Final Thoughts:
I am really happy with this costume! I got a lot of compliments, and nobody was a creeper. Haha! There are little bits on the dress I would like to fix up- such as some dodgy seams and one or two rhinestones which need to be glued down more securely- but overall I'm proud of it. The dress ended up still being a little too big across the chest- in some photos I can see it sticking out even though the corset lacing was done up all the way.
I've still got a good amount of velvet left-over, so I am going to make a little cardigan to wear over the dress should I ever get any Tink parties. This will make it a little more modest! Regardless, I still had parents and their children coming up to me all day for photos.

Thank you for reading!

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Snow Queen Wig

Hi lovelies!
Back, this time with something a little different.

The Snow Queen Wig

Long story; as most of you know I not only run my own mermaid business, I'm also contracted out by an amazing local company doing princess/fairy parties. And for the last few months I'd done my best to avoid being the Snow Queen. 
Its not that she's not a wonderful character, I'm just not a huge fan of playing her. haha! And at the moment, children are crazy over her. Absolutely insane-jumping-off-the-walls-screaming-'omg-the-Snow-Queen-is-here' crazy.
My usual characters are the Snow Princess and the Mermaid Princess. So as the Snow Princess, I get to see a lot of the insanity that happens at kids parties with the Snow Queen. Plus, as the Snow Queen you have to be regal and a little reserved- the Snow Princess its far more relaxed and goofy. I'm naturally attuned to the second one. haha!

It was finally time for me to accept my fate. We had more Snow Queen bookings than actors.

And so, I decided it was probably a good idea to invest in a nice Snow Queen wig. I dont know what it is with kids, but they will always ask if you're wearing a wig. Every. Time. Maybe its just me? But the easiest way to avoid the persistent pulling of wigs to prove their point, is to have a realistic one, as you can simply go 'oh yes of course its my real hair' and move on. If there is a STRAND of different hair colour peaking through, they wont drop it, and you'll be defending your hair-do for the rest of the party. Somehow, I've found it's 3x worse as the Snow Queen- perhaps its because her hair is so iconic?

Anyways, after some searching around I discovered that most long, lace-front wigs in white or platinum blonde were sold out.
With two weeks til my next Snow Queen party, I needed a solution. This is what I came up with:

This lovely pile of hair is one wig and two wefts.

I've not had much luck with lace-front wigs until I purchased from Arda. My head is a strange shape; everything is too big around the front. But with Arda its not so noticeable- so I decided to go with them again!
Arda also has the advantage of stocking wefts in every single colour to match their wigs.

Unfortunately, they were sold out of EVERY long lace-front wig in Titanium or Platinum blonde.
But, they did have this fella:

It was too short, but it was lace-front and had nice choppy layers around the face. I decided it would only take a packet or so of wefts to bulk up the length.
This is the Morpheous from the side.

And one very impressive weft. I think it is about 90cm long!

The process of adding wefts to a wig is pretty simple. There are tons of tutorials online about how to do it! Its just time consuming, lol!
But basically, you part the wig around (I start at the bottom and work my way up) and sew the wefts onto the elastic supports:
Here is my super-dodgy photo of one weft sewn in. lol.

You do this to as many layers as you like, working your way up the wig. In the end I used one whole packet of wefts, and about 60cm length of another just for good measure.

I ended up with this:
Please excuse the super messy room.

Now the fun part! (Not...) de-tangling the lovely mess of a wig. You'll find wig-wefts are quite wispy and easily tangle. Its annoying but I spent about half an hour brushing it out! lol! Always use a wig-comb, and if you have some on hand (I didn't, silly me) some de-tangling spray is a miracle worker.

Finally, its about styling the wig. I have no photos of this, as plating a 90cm wig requires two hands ...and feet to hold the wig-head.
I separated the front layers from the rest of the wig before plating, but the layers are all quite wispy so many fell out of the plat- it didn't look too bad, so I just went with it. I trimmed the front layers a fair bit, and sprayed the heck out of them with hairspray.

In the end, this was the final wig:
Its really not perfect. haha! But I was pleased with it. I ended up trimming about 25cm off the plat itself, as it was far too long.

And here it is on:
Taken in the car before the party, haha!
The final touches before the party is a generous spraying of glitter hairspray. Very generous.

Time to Complete:
This wig took about 4 nights to do, as I just worked on it in the evenings in front of the tv. haha!

It was $95 all up for the wig and two wefts, not including shipping. White thread was from my stash.

Final Thoughts:
Although I would've preferred a longer-based wig to start off with, I'm pleased that this one kind of resembles the Snow Queen! lol! I had planned to hand-sew some more hair into the lace at the front of the wig to create a widows-peak, but decided against it as time wasn't on my side.
I'm going to find super strong hair gel to re-do the front wisps, as after one party the hairspray had completely worn out and the layers were everywhere! Also need to find some snow-flake hair pins, but the children dont notice they are missing (the glitter must distract them... haha!)

Thanks for Reading!