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Saturday, October 19, 2013

New Levels of Geekery

Most of the costumes I post about on here are historical or at least have some historical influence, but make no mistake; I will sew just about anything that strikes my fancy, and I am super geeky. I have seen almost all of Star Trek--all of the movies and almost every episode of all of the TV series except the animated one. I'm a huge fan.

I've always been rather hesitant about cosplaying Star Trek, though. See the Starfleet uniforms that are the most flattering on the women are the ones from the original series, but I'm not the miniskirt type. It's just not going to happen. And those dresses don't look the same once you lengthen them to knee-length. But most costumes of any of the jumpsuit uniforms (Next Generation, especially) look like baggy pajamas. That is not attractive.

Then Salt Lake City got its very own Comic Con this year! (And Utah is a geek haven, so it did ridiculously well for its first year. Yay, Utah!) Anyway, I couldn't really afford to take time off work to go, but a very talented artist friend, Stewart Craig, had a booth there, and his sister-in-law helped him at it and wanted to dress up. They initially asked me for a Next Generation uniform for her, but I'm not sorry that they changed their minds from that. We ended up settling on the uniform from the beginning of Deep Space Nine and all of Voyager.

Emily wanted to be a Science officer, but I couldn't find the right fabric in the right color, and if I was going to make this costume at all, it was going to be as good as I could make it, so I wasn't really willing to use fabric that wouldn't look right just to give her the color she wanted most. Luckily, she was okay with command red, as that was actually the easiest for me to find in the fabric I wanted to use.

My husband is extremely crafty too and usually makes the accessories I can't make myself for my costumes, but he didn't have a lot of time, so we bought the comm badge and rank pips from Xscapes Sci-Fi Originals. We did change the comm badge to magnet on instead of velcroing, though.

One of the reasons I was glad to be making a Voyager uniform is that most of them are not jumpsuits at all. They are jackets and pants with an undershirt. I think this is much more sensible to wear because let's face it, if you're wearing a jumpsuit, and you have to go to the bathroom, your clothes have to come almost all of the way off. That is not convenient. So let's all agree that future people are going to need to go the bathroom just as much as we do, therefore they are not going to start wearing jumpsuits all the time.

Okay, back to the actual topic. The pants were the easiest part. I used New Look pattern 6519, modifying the pants only a little to eliminate the side zipper and give it a fly zipper and a hook and bar closure. I should have modified them slightly more to add small slits at the bottom front of the pant legs so they would fall open over the boots, but I did not, due to time constraints.

The jacket was more tricky. I used Simplicity pattern 2284 as a jumping-off point, but it took more modification to become what I needed. I used the longest sleeve, but eliminated cuffs and openings. For the body of the jacket, I omitted all pockets and decoration, and the shape of the jacket is actually pretty good for what I needed. It's too long, but shortening it and adding a waistband were pretty easy. Some parts got complicated, though. The women's jackets are fitted in front, but have pleats about an inch wide on either side of the back of the jacket just inside the shoulders, so I had to modify the back panels to allow for that, and that fullness in the back makes it a little tricky to actually get the front to look fitted.

The real headaches, though, were the color block across the shoulders, and the zipper. I think it's fairly obvious why the color block was difficult. I had to figure out the exact size and shape of those pattern pieces, making sure that all of the seams would line up just right. That went surprisingly well, but I did have to redo a couple of the pieces once. The problem with the zipper was that it needed to be (or act like) an invisible zipper because the jackets on the show don't have zippers showing, but it's a jacket, so the zipper needed to separate on the bottom. Separating invisible zippers are not something you need most of the time, so they're not easy to find. Jon and I did find one, but it had this big, chunky zipper pull that really hurt my sensibilities. Yes, even when my costumes are not historical, I have issues with inaccuracy. I'm picky like that. The solution I eventually settled on was to buy a black plastic separating zipper and actually sew it on the inside of the jacket, with the zipper pull hanging to the inside. Each side of the zipper was sewn far enough in on the fabric that the front edges of the jacket touch each other the way they would with an invisible zipper.




Okay, so my seams don't line up perfectly, but I think this is very close.
 Then comes the undershirt. That really shouldn't have been much of a challenge. I didn't even bother to buy a pattern for it because it's just a mock-turtle with a short invisible zipper down the back of the neck so that the neck could be quite fitted. But I was conveniently forgetting a truth you'd really think I'd have learned really well by now: my sewing machine hates extra stretchy knits with a firey burning passion. And yes, I had a very stretchy fabric for the undershirt.

Because I am a dental assistant by day now, I was sewing right up to the wire on this one, and I started the undershirt (after just barely finishing the other pieces) late on the night before the customer needed to wear it. That shouldn't have been a big problem either, but instead of actually sewing the pieces together at all, my needle just kept shoving the fabric down into the machine. I couldn't even get it to sew crappy, rippley seams. Nothing. I thought of some potential solutions to this problem that didn't involve a serger--because I don't own one and by no means had the money to go out and get one or time to borrow one--but I didn't have a lot of time for experimentation. If it worked, it would have been great, but if it didn't, I would have lost a lot of time on it. So Jon and I set to frantically hand-sewing this undershirt. We eliminated the long sleeves it should've had and the whole bottom half of the shirt so there would be less sewing to do, and we barely finished it on time, but it looked awesome! And apparently, Emily was grateful I made the modified undershirt because it was pretty hot in the convention center, so yay for desperate measures working out for the best.

And now for pictures of Emily at the convention. I will go ahead and say upfront that I am fully geeky enough to feel kind of cool to see the costume I made photographed next to some of these people even though I was not there to meet them.

I include this one with some girl I don't know cosplaying 7 of 9 because it shows the fit of Emily's jacket better than most of the others.
Emily and Dwight Schultz aka Lt. Barclay
Emily and John Eaves, designer of the Enterprise E and a lot of other cool stuff
Emily and John de Lancie aka Q
And I really shouldn't have to caption this one, but I will anyway: Emily and William Shatner aka Captain Kirk (obviously!)

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