Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Little Gryffindor Seeker

One of the things I was looking forward to most about being a mother was getting to dress up SHB. I made a couple costumes for him when he was a baby, but ever since he started growing like a weed and taking up most of my mental energy, I haven't done much sewing for him. But since I made myself a McGonagall costume for Halloween, I figured I should make him some Hogwarts robes to match. While I identify somewhat with McGonagall, being a teacher and all, SHB's life is not much like Harry Potter's; he is loved and well fed and of course, his parents are alive. There are still some similarities, though: he is well-known at school and he sleeps in a closet.* And Harry Potter is the youngest Quidditch player in a century and SHB is definitely the youngest kid at Gryffindor Quidditch robes it was!

I don't know what to do with my hands. 

I very briefly entertained thoughts of cutting out and sewing on the letters for "GRYFFINDOR" but dismissed it after thinking for like, five seconds about how tedious it would be.

I used the hooded jacket pattern from Kwik-Sew 3127 as a basis for the robe. Following these tutorials/patterns, I slashed and spread the body and sleeve pattern pieces and cut out stripes and such. I used regular fleece from Joann's, figuring that the warmth would be nice for the end of October -- WRONG! It was still quite warm so the robe wasn't quite comfortable for SHB. Add in the fact that I made it bigger on purpose so that he could wear it next year too, and he was not happy about wearing it. Of course. After all the time I spent, too! How like a toddler! I suppose it's my own fault for treating him like a doll...but oh how cute he looks in his robe!

Why am I wearing a fleece robe when it's 70-something degrees??

I also made him a little Nimbus 2016 broom as a prop. Thank goodness for the abundance of decorative brooms in stores around Halloween; I just painted the handle and added gold duct tape, then Sharpie-d the logo and model number on.

Um, why am I holding this? (Also I can't get enough of his little curled up toes sticking out of the bottom of the robe!)

In the end, SHB got sick and didn't go trick-or-treating on Halloween at all; he only wore this costume for half an hour to take pictures a week after Halloween. Turns out it was a good thing I made it so big, then! Next year! Or maybe for a con?

Or just endless pictures with Mommy.

Trying to get my phone to do autofocus and capture opposite colors was just too much, I guess. 

What are you, a young Napoleon? 

Pattern: Kwik-Sew 3127, modified.
Fabric: 1.5 yards of burgundy fleece, half a yard of goldenrod fleece for the lining and decorations
Notions: Tiny eyelets for the front fastening and some black twill tape
Hours: At least ten. Topstitching and cutting all the stripes and such took the longest time.
Total cost: $10
Final thoughts: I think SHB looks adorable, but now that he's older and definitely has his own opinions I do feel a little bad making him wear a costume when he doesn't understand why or want to. I guess it's a good thing I don't make many for him? I always wonder how other geeky parents manage this; I see so many blog parents say things like oh, my kid loves Star Wars or Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but their kids are quite young. Do they actually have them watch the movies or read the books, which to my mind can be quite a bit beyond say, a kindergardener? I would love to have SHB love my fandoms, but I can't see having him sit and watch anything longer than a fifteen minute Daniel Tiger segment right now, and even then he has trouble sitting through and following the whole thing (I know this depends a lot on the child and what they're used to, but we try to keep SHB's screentime minimal so he hasn't developed that kind of attention span). I suppose one could get a simplified version of the story (how cute is this imagining of The Hobbit?), but the purist in me wants SHB's first experience to be the original medium. Any geeky parents want to weigh in on this?

*I bring SHB with me to school and he naps in a Pack-N-Play in a cozy little supply closet while I teach. This is not nearly as awful as it sounds. There are no spiders, for one.

Professor McGonagall Cosplay

[I know I was supposed to write about the costumes for Antigone, but that's just too overwhelming to think about. I was so burnt out after sewing like mad for two months that I didn't touch my machine for another five months. It wasn't until the thought of Halloween popped up that I could stand to think about sewing another costume. Thankfully, it was a very inspiring costume.]

When I found out that the Silicon Valley Symphony was doing a series of Harry Potter movie soundtrack concerts, I knew I had to make a costume, especially since the first one was during Halloween weekend! Although I briefly toyed with the idea of a femme-Snape costume, I decided to stick with one of my teacher heroines, Professor Minerva McGonagall: strict, no-nonsense, fair, high expectations, but not above the unexpected biscuit-offering. As a teacher myself, I'd rather emulate her teaching style than Snape's.

I already had a RTW black turtleneck and a thrifted long skirt that I could use for her dress, but I knew that to really get her I needed the iconic green velvet robe and the huge pointy black hat. The hat was fairly straightforward to make, even if it was annoying trying to sew all the layers of thick fabric together. I used the hat pattern from the now-OOP Simplicity 9887, but with a much wider brim, and black cotton velveteen and heavyweight craft interfacing from Joann's. The bent tip and brim were wired with floral wire to help them hold their shape, and a pheasant-feather bundle from Michael's and a random stash button finished off the look.

The robe was a little more tricky, since it was hard to find good pictures of her. I ended up watching this YouTube clip several times to get a good idea of how the seams on the back yoke of the robe looked (best shot is at 0:32-33), then modified the robe in Simplicity 9887 significantly in order to get the yoke lines and the fullness at the back, as well as the collared look in front. The sleevehead had so much excess that I was able to just gather it before inserting to get the look. I didn't bother lining it because I just wasn't feeling motivated, but in hindsight I wish I had at least lined the sleeves since the inside definitely shows.

I'm really pleased at how the collar and yoke integrate with the sleeve, but all those layers of panne velvet meant I had to topstitch everything since I couldn't press all that thickness into submission. 

I love how full the back came out, but I wish I had interfaced the front collar.
Panne velvet is cheap, but doesn't have much by way of body. 

The finishing touches were her wand and brooch. The wand was made possible thanks to a fortuitous finial find at a bead store, otherwise I have no idea how I would have mimicked the carved wood look of hers. I used superglue to attach it to some beads and a wooden dowel, then painted it all with my usual acrylic craft paints.

My finished wand compared to McGonagall's official wand. 

The brooch was definitely a lot trickier; I didn't want a goofy-looking handmade Sculpey one (McGonagall demands sharp perfection, not Becky Home-Ecky) so I asked my very talented brother if he could design and 3D plastic one. Boy, did he deliver! So many people at the concert asked where I had gotten my movie-accurate brooch! I used silver paint pens and nail polish to color it appropriately and the gems are just plastic rhinestones, and there's a brooch pin tacky-glued to the back.

I realized after assembling all these pieces that the look would be totally ruined if I had my regular purse with me, so I decided to make a book-purse as well. I bought a fake book (the kind that opens up to reveal a secret compartment) at Ross and glued on a faux-leather cover. Metal decorative corners and a carefully-calligraphed and cut out "Complete Guide to Transfiguration" bookplate completed the look. When I wore this costume to the Barnes & Noble HP Ball, I actually got stopped by a lot of people wanting to know if I had purchased my book purse there and where was the display so they could buy one too...high praise for a last-minute addition!

I based the color scheme and front cover on the movie version of A Guide to Advanced Transfiguration

When I put all of the costume pieces together, I definitely felt very McGonagall! This might be one of the most screen-accurate cosplays I've done -- enough so that people at the concert and the ball asked 1) whether I worked there, and 2) whether I got my costume at Universal, and then were subsequently amazed when I said that I made it. And of course, seeing all the smiles from little kids was the best. It was all kinds of gratifying and a fun reminder of why I loved making costumes and wearing them, even if I get strange looks en route to the event (when I met up with Elaine at an English pub before the concert, somebody called me Mrs. Harry Potter, and when I was walking through the parking lot to B&N a dude asked if I was a witch, and when I answered in the affirmative he said plaintively, "'s not Halloween!").

I know McGonagall is supposed to look stern and forbidding, but I was too excited!

Elaine in her grey cat hoodie was my Patronus. Because yes, McGonagall's Patronus is a grey tabby, and her Animagus form is also a grey tabby, so that means her Patronus is...herself. How's that for the ultimate cat lady? 
The concert was awesome, but the Barnes & Noble Harry Potter Ball was frankly quite lame. All they had was a cutout for taking pictures with, and lots of merchandise to buy. I hear other branches had funner activities like trivia contests and such. Oh well! I was able to browse all the books searching for Seraphina Picquery costume shots, though, so that was soemthing at least. 

Pattern: Simplicity 9887, but heavily modified. The brim of the hat was extended by three inches all around, and the robe is pretty much a different pattern now.
Fabric: 6 yards of forest green costume velvet for the robe, 1.5 yards each black cotton velveteen and heavyweight craft interfacing for the hat, 1/4 yard of burgundy faux-leather for the book
Notions: Feather bundle and stash button for the hat, decorative corners from the scrapbooking section for the book
Hours: Four or so for the hat, twelve-ish for the robe, three for the wand, two for the brooch, and two for the book. A lot of the time for the crafty items was spent running around to different stores getting the materials, and this is not counting all the time spent researching. So at least 25 hours total for this cosplay!
Cost: $18 for the velvet, $15 for the hat fabric, $6 for the feather bundle, $5 for the wand materials, $8 for the brooch materials (nail polish and silver pens and rhinestones), $8 for the book materials; total cost of the costume, $60. Not bad!
Final thoughts: Um, I love it? I think that's pretty obvious. SHB does not like it, though. He doesn't like it when I wear hats, and this one is pretty huge. It's a costume better suited to cold weather since it's so warm to wear all that fabric, but winter also brings rain and high winds, which is less good for long skirts and a big hat. All in all it's very comfortable but cumbersome to wear.

Since I made a McGonagall costume for myself, it was only logical that I make an HP-related Halloween costume for SHB as well. Next up: the youngest seeker on the Gryffindor Quidditch team!