This Is Halloween, Dragon Queen

As expected, I was approached about my costume plans for the company costume contest. Unexpectedly, I was still taken aback by such a candid interrogation over something so insignificant. At some point during my Halloween harassment rage, I decided–in the words of the most gangsta grandma ever–to “be a dragon.”

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Not a queen, but this post outline was pre-written and I really liked the title

Evil Ted recently posted a video for upgrading the mechanical wings currently trending in Halloween stores. Since I love wings and had all of the necessary equipment to make the changes, I knew I wanted to be either a vampire or a dragon…which really only left dragon as the acceptable choice. The wings were on sale with free shipping, so it was clearly meant to be. Without any firm ideas on what shape this costume would take, I picked up a couple of dragon brooches and buttons at the ren faire as accents. Fabric shopping the stash was easier than usual–I looked for textures rather than colors, and then, I narrowed down my options. The full costume took around 20 hours over the course of seven days.

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Not all materials were harmed in the making of this dragon

The wings seemed easiest, so I started there. I followed Evil Ted’s tutorial, with changes similar to GBGH Cosplay’s Spyro build. In the end, I enlarged the wings and added finger structures. The webbing is an unknown shrinks-while-melting fabric in green and gold. It’s not quite plastic, but similar. I used polyurethane tubing (leftover from a farthingale experiment) to extend the outside frame and 4mm foam for the fingers. The other  foamsmithed pieces of this project were Kamui Cosplay’s spiral horns and some foot claws that I drafted for my heelless booties. After cutting and smoothing, everything got three coats each of Plasti-dip, hammered metallic spray paint, and clear coat.

After a few hours of drying time, I glued down the wing fabric, then the fingers. The frame is wrapped in a golden upholstery chenille (or whatever that strange fabric is) from my remnant bin, then the remaining foam pieces were hot glued into place. In addition to being fairly sturdy, the sound that these babies make when they open is super cool!

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With work-intensive items out of the way, I decided to keep going with the gold upholstery fabric, making a tail, bracers, and shoe covers. The tail structure is 12mm foam scraps glued to a strip of twill tape and surrounded by polyfill. I added nylon strapping to the base for belt loops and ran 3” elastic through them. This was not an ideal material for keeping the tail on my low waist, but it was layered under and through three pairs of pants, so I wasn’t worried. The bracers have a taffeta decoration and are interlined with canvas and lined with cotton. Shoe covers are a pain in the ass. That is all I have to say about them.

The knit green top was traced from a well-fitting long sleeve t-shirt. I extended the length, added a collar, and inserted strips of a really neat thin, brown, animal textured stretch fabric to the arms and front. The harness was still exposed and I was running out of time, so I dug through my remnant bin again and found a fantastic stitched-look not-suede. It’s buttery soft. I trimmed the biggest section into something resembling a hooded capelet and anchored two points to the front of the shirt. I pinned the dragon brooches over the points and duct taped the closures. I skipped the fancy buttons for this top.

And, now–[insert heavy sigh]–the legs. A few years ago, I made my own version of digitigrade legs for Krampus, using materials I already had in my stash–yoga pants, floor mats, and quilt batting. I am still immensely proud of them, but I will admit that I didn’t want to make them again. When I started this dragon, I figured that I could just cover the existing legs with new fabric, and call it a day. That was a stupid assumption. At first, I was going to use the wing fabric because I have so much of it, but the coloring didn’t make sense. Additionally, fitting a non-stretch over those curves would be worse than trying to fit my own curves into pants of similar material, so…no. Very late on the final night (very early the morning of), I made a pair of harem pants to wear over my Krampus legs. I’ve made a lot of versions of this style, so I was confident that they’d be done in 20 minutes. They were. I laid out a fun paisley print that I was saving for a pair of dance-y dance harem pants. I cut a front and back crotch seam, using the entire width of the fabric. Then, I stitched them up and added elastic to the waist and cuffs, leaving the hems open about one ½” for adjustments. When I put the whole costume on before work, I cut off the old Krampus tail and made a slit through the leg base, fur, and harem pants. I slid the tail through and anchored it to my waist.

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I’m still really fucking shocked that this didn’t fall off my ass. That said…Pro tip: Don’t wear a thong on a tail day. #asshole

The Husband bought me a random Amazon Warehouse wig a few months ago, so I nixed my plan of a spiky yarn mohawk and went with that instead. I donned a leather belt and a coordinating belt pouch from the accessories bin for daily essentials and to keep the shirt in place over the bulk of the legs. My nail wraps and eye makeup are from Espionage Cosmetics.

For the drive, I only wore the top and bracers with a pair of black pants and my adventurin’ boots. While I was having breakfast at my desk, an employee walked over, looked me up and down, and said, “Oh, wait. You’re not dressed yet, are you?” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I’ve trained them with complex costumes. They know me too well. I told him, “This is my breakfast costume.”

During the day, I posed for pictures, opened my wings a few dozen times, much to the delight of myself and children. Then, I withdrew my costume from the contest. Dressing up on Halloween is supposed to be fun, and, even with a “spite costume”, I enjoyed trying out new techniques.

This is Halloween when you’re a costumer.

 

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Costume For A Day

Halloween is less than two months away, and I don’t have a costume. This is a costuming blog, so, obviously, there are a few clarifying statements that need to be made, but the dilemma is the same for many people: “What am I going to wear for Halloween?” Parties, school, work, candy distribution, candy collection, parades, charity appearances, scary movie marathons–all of these events get our wheels turning to come up with the perfect ensemble for “the one” (HA!)  day of the year when dressing in costume is deemed acceptable. As a hobby costumer, Halloween is my nightmare scenario.

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Only a nightmare for the naughty…

First, my Halloween costume will be worn solely for a contest at work. Important to some people, there are “cash” prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. There are rules to be followed with regard to the level of appropriateness, the ability to physically work, and the inability to harm coworkers (unintentionally or otherwise). The winners are decided by popular vote, which equates to a costume contest at a bar where a cosplayer shows up in Warhammer 40K gear, then promptly loses to a mundane in a Naughty Wizard costume-in-a-bag based upon crowd noise. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s fucking devastating.

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“I bought it on Amazon–tee hee!”

Second, I do not like competing, but I do enjoy office participation…within reason. In a business casual setting, wearing a costume is a good way to show your team members something about yourself, and to learn something about them in return. When I wore my Clockwork Droid in 2011, I quickly found the Doctor Who fans in the building. However, my company has grown to multiple offices across the country, and the Halloween costume contest has gotten ugly in the 10+ years that I’ve been around–rallying for votes, trash-talking, using kids as props–it’s all absurd and only touches a handful of participating folks company-wide. The fun of the holiday has been tarnished because some people just want to win.

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“Calm the fuck down, Chad. I’m not a real robot.”

Third, I’ve been told to “let someone else win.” As it happens, I’ve won the contest a few times…and placed every year that I’ve entered. Even years when people feel inclined to ask me, “What are you supposed to be?” [Cue costumer rage], I end up with a little extra coffee money. The first, second, and third years that I won first place, I took the following year off–still dressing up, but not entering the contest, only to be berated, “Why didn’t you dress up? I wanted to beat you this year!” I’ve stopped taking years off. I only dress up because costuming is fun for me, but I wouldn’t turn down a bonus in my paycheck just because someone’s feelings could potentially be damaged. I never go in to win, I just make and wear what appeals to me and hope for the best. A wise t-shirt designer once wrote, “Those who hate, shall hate henceforth.”

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2nd, 2nd, 1st, Year Off, Had a Baby, 1st, Year Off, 2nd, 1st, Year Off, 1st, 1st

Fourth, regardless of how I feel about entering the competition, Halloween at work is a great opportunity for me to make a costume that I wouldn’t wear to comic con or to the ren faire. I always make something new, but I do appreciate a receptive audience–be it one person or many persons. I want to bring joy (or abject terror) to at least a few fun lovers. I’m a giver. Which also means that I fret over what I’m going to wear up until the day of, in the same way that I would fret over baking a pie for a potluck–is my contribution going to fall flat?

Costumes that I would choose for a comic convention include characters that are often too specific for a group of three hundred people to connect with–Hawkgirl, Twi’Link, anything anime. Garb that I would wear to a renaissance faire or pseudo-historical event are obviously beautiful and well-made, but do not give off a Halloween vibe (excluding the headless Anne Boleyn idea that I’ve been toying with). When it comes to Halloween at work, my costumes have been popular characters, company themed characters, and clearly time-intensive pieces of art.

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Chad: “What even are you?” Me: “Stand down, little boy, and I’ll give you a cookie.”

For pop culture, I try to stick with fandoms that I’m into–sci-fi, fantasy, video games–that other people may also enjoy. The company themed characters got me labeled a suck-up, but they were both badass and I’m still proud of what I did. The harder pieces that I’ve created tend to be mash-ups and I often ended up wearing those costumes more than once (something I don’t do with con costumes for some reason). My ideas have come months before and hours before, but there’s always something. This year, I am completely stumped.

I’ve considered upgrading an old work costume, wearing one of my cosplays, not wearing a costume at all, polling my friends and making whichever character they choose, and leaving it to the week before Halloween to see what comes out of my studio. As an added bonus, I have a number of other costumed events that will require my attention before I can even start on a Halloween outfit.

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“Oh, I ain’t requesting nothing. Ask who I am. “

All that to say, “I’m taking suggestions.” Thanks for reading!