My eyebrows, let me tell you about them!
I use the glue stick technique, which was taught to me by a sales associate at Sephora who is a drag queen four nights a week. He told me to not waste my money on facial waxes—as in, wax-based substances you apply to your face to mask brows or for SFX purposes. Instead, a simple glue stick and some concealer will do the trick.
Now, full disclosure: this process will be easier or harder depending on the size and thickness of your eyebrows. My brows are fairly heavy, so this was harder for me than it will be on someone with a thinner brow. That said, if a man can do it for drag, then you can too!
Wondering how Beth and I made some of these costume pieces? We’ve compiled a list of handy tutorials that we referred to while we worked in 2012 (and a little bit of 2011). Note: this doesn’t include tutorials for specific items we’ve made, which we’re working on writing up.
Tutorial Roundup: A Year In Review
"No, really, how did you get your boobs to stay in place for Qunaribela?"
That is such a valid question, though! I wouldn’t have been creeped out if anyone had asked me this, since … well, to be honest, I’m not sure how I managed to pull it off sometimes.
Consensus appears to be blood magic!
My goal when making Qunaribela’s top (which is the polite, catch-all word I’ve been using to refer to “those two strips of fabric that barely hold my boobs in place”) was to create something that I wouldn’t need fashion tape to wear. Case in point, I did not use fashion tape for Qunaribela. I did initially, but soon realized that the tape was more uncomfortable than effective and so opted to remove it (with the knowledge that Tori could always toss me the roll back so I could reapply).
So let’s go over a few things I did to make this thing work, shall we?
“So my friend and I are going to be cosplaying the corsair and the trickster for FanExpo in Toronto this August (our first time, so excited!!!), and we were wondering what you use to make your weapons. Thanks! :D”
Oooooh, your first con or your first cosplay? Either way, good luck and have fun, anon!
I admittedly am not a fan of how the Corsair’s sword turned out due to a silly mistake I made early on, which meant that I had to bulk up the initial sword structure with wood and hot glue for stability. Not making that mistake again! But the mistake did teach me a few things that I’ll apply to my next weapon, so here we go!
First of all, I have a couple of friends who are awesome at props and I basically bow to them. Some are crazy professional propmakers and commissioners (like Punished Props) and others are just crazy talented propmaking cosplayers (like Aziza). Crazy-ass armormakers (like Beth) can also provide some excellent advice :)
Because I am not a crazy-ass prop/armormaker, but instead a humble fabric-zombie, my preferred prop technique is to work with with Paperclay. Honestly, you’re usually better off making things out of wood or casting things, but particularly if you don’t have access to machinery/materials or don’t have an ideal workspace for this sort of thing (or are just generally intimidated by Fancy Techniques like I am), Paperclay works! It’s a really great, sturdy material that is both light and sands beautifully—the one downside to it is that it doesn’t stick to surfaces too well and you’ll be battling that a lot, but it’s great both for making props or for building up details on things you’re making/altering.
The important thing to note when using clay for prop-making is that you always want to start with a sturdy base. This is the mistake I made: I made a core of foam for the Corsair’s sword, but the weight of the drying clay made it break, meaning that I had to build an exoskeleton around it and then build up with clay on top of that (thus the bulk). Seriously, don’t make that mistake. It’s a silly mistake, and with the Corsair and Trickster, you want your props to be very delicately dangerous.
So basically you want a sturdy armature. Your best bet for that will be wooden dowels—you can get those on the cheap and at varying sizes, and you can break and glue them together to create a very rough core. For the Corsair’s sword in particular, with that curved blade, I would break and glue pieces together so that it makes that shape. It won’t be pretty, but you’re going to be building up clay around that structure anyway, so it won’t matter. Then use clay, let it dry a few days, sand it down, patch if necessary (I always do a few rounds of patching because I’m a perfectionist), and then you’ll be good to go! Just remember to Modge Podge it to seal it before you start painting—Paperclay is paper-based and not terribly water resistant by nature, so you’ll want to go to extra lengths to seal it for protection.
I think that’s everything! If any of my followers have preferred prop-making techniques they’d like to share with Anon, please do so :)
Insulation foam is another good bet—the really hard pink kind you get at home depot. It can be cut and carved, but you have to take care to SEAL IT A LOT WITH LOTS OF GESSO. I used it for Nero’s sword—it’s quite sturdy!
“Any suggestions for boning corsets, Allegra? OH HO HO HO~! But no seriously. I'm having trouble finding a pattern to create Isabela's black corset. Any chance you could steer my ship in the right direction?”
D’OHOHOHOHOHOHOHO I SURE DO
Unless there is magically a pattern for a corset with cutouts on the side, you’re going to want to modify an underbust corset pattern for this one. A tutorial as basic as this one is sufficient as a basic corset instruction if you’ve never made one before (I used this for Trish, which is also a fairly wonk corset), but for the pattern itself, you’re going to want to do something like this:
If this picture is horrible, it’s because I sketched it and took a picture with my phone during the most thrilling project management webinar of my life, and also because I can’t draw for shit.
You need to think of this as two half-corsets, with one front section and one reverse section. When you pattern, keep in mind that the edge panels are going to be slightly narrower as you don’t want them to connect, since you need room for that gap of skin. I used (at Cae's recommendation, and by the way she is a great corset maker and could probably explain these things better than I could) spiral steel boning in the side boning channels for added flexibility, but that's just because of my crazy posing. I also—and I'm not entirely sure of this, but this is my beef with the design in the first place—would arguably lace the corset too-too tight since I worry, personally, that the area would bulge a bit because that's just what corsets do. That's your call, though! I also don't know this for sure, but that was the design choice we made with the corset.
I also roughly marked the areas of connection. You’ll definitely want one at your natural waist, as well as at the very top and bottom (or slightly off-set; can’t remember off the top of my head), and the fourth one you can place based on spacing. The final one goes at the very top of the bust section. One side will be permanently connected, the other you can attach with hooks and eyes. I think of the top two as being critical for holding your breasts in place, and the one at the natural waist for just holding it together in general.
(boning jokes honestly never get old ololololo)
Some notes on making a hidden blade (specifically Lia de Russo’s Inverted Hidden Blade)
eu-phemia reminded me that I wanted to do this, so I’ll tackle it as best as I can! Sadly, a lot of the hidden blade-making process was undocumented for a number of reasons, the biggest of which being how stressed I was about finishing this costume by the time I was able to get some serious work done on the blade. Also, I would have waited to get home before typing this, but one of the straps on the bracer is a bit broken right now, so there’s no sense in taking pictures of a broken prop. XD
Featuring the lovely Lorena as the Elite Courtesan, taken at NYCC. Photo credit unknown - let me know if you took it, or know who did!
I’m going to tackle this tutorial in two parts: the blade and the bracer.
How to make Isabela’s necklaces (Fenris’ eyes not included)
the-dumb-of-crazy asked me earlier how I made Izzy’s jewelry, so I figured I’d show you all! :D (I AM A WOMAN OF MY WORD.)
How to tackle the Smuggler (and I don’t mean literally)
Are you interested in cosplaying the Smuggler? Congratulations! If you’re a detail oriented human being, you are going to have an interesting time with her. The Smuggler is easily one of the most ornate of the multiplayer costumes, has a lot of layers and pieces to her, not to mention a working hidden blade…. So here are a few tips and tricks for how you’ll want to go about this.
The key word in this tutorial is going to be my favorite word of all, as a cosplayer: DETAILS.
How to Make Isabela’s Boots
One of my favorite hobbies is creeping on aicosu's tumblr, not only because I adore them but because Sheila is really great about answering people's cosplay questions and I'm an eternal student. In doing so, I stumbled on this post here, and since people are always asking anyway, I figured I’d go ahead and explain how Jennifer and I made Isabela’s boots. FOR SCIENCE!
I didn’t photodocument working on Izzy as much as I arguably could have, since Jennifer (one of my best friends and my Izzy partner-in-crime) was the one with the sewing machine, as I hadn’t bought mine yet. As such, she was the one who physically stitched together the dress and boots, and since all of the sewing happened in her apartment there aren’t many pictures of the pieces in progress. Also, the boots were the last thing we put together, and PAX East was so close at that point that the last thing on my mind was taking pictures of the unfinished product when I was getting on the train to Boston in a week. But I do have a few reference shots that would provide a bit of a visual aid to what I’m about to explain.