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Captain America Cake

May 1, 2012

Yep, you read that right. Brian has a birthday coming up, so Jen has decided to tackle this cake:

Jen has been scouring the internet for delicious cake recipes, so here are all her secrets!

1. Red Velvet Cake – The Alton Brown recipe has been met with great success already. The plan is to use the red velvet cake for the red layers, and the same recipe for the blue layer, but with blue food coloring.
2. White Cake – She’ll be trying this recipe for the white layers.
3. Even though the picture clearly shows fondant icing, it’s not as delicious as this cream cheese frosting recipe also generously provided by Alton Brown. The plan is to paint stars and stripes on the top with food coloring.

Today’s plan – pick up essentials from the grocery store!

May 6, 2012

So Jen attempted to make the Captain America cake. It didn’t quite turn out like the “inspiration”, so instead it transformed into an Avengers cake. It looked good and tasted delicious. There are already requests for more cakes!

 

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Nerd Decoupage

I’ve been looking around the internet, and have noticed a surge in shoes covered in Star Wars images or comic strips. Most of these things don’t actually exist, or exist in a limited quantity. So I thought, “Hey, I can do that!” So I organized a day for my friends and I to get together and make our own awesome geek accessories using decoupage. It’s not something I’ve ever done before, and I thought I’d share what I’ve learned with you.

Turns out the Elmer’s glue mix wasn’t quite right.  The paper stiffened up and didn’t stay on the shoe when they started moving around and bending. It’s probably perfect for a stationary surface like a box or a table.  My next experiment will be with ModPodge, which is a glue specifically designed for decoupaging.

ModPodge Technique

I found an inexpensive pair of shoes that fit me at Goodwill.
I also found some CrossGen Chronicles comics at Goodwill. These are the comics I decided to use to decoupage the shoes.
After wiping down the shoe inside and out, I started at the toe. I found the perfect piece to go on the exposed toes.
I then trimmed the pictures and put a thin layer of ModPodge on the shoe itself, then put down the picture, then put a layer of ModPodge on top of the picture. After the top layer dried, I applied a second coat.
I learned that when working with curves, it’s important to make sure the ModPodge is adhering the paper to the shoe. I achieved this by putting more ModPodge on top at the edges where I wanted to be sure it would stay. 
I also learned that you need to find the natural curve of the paper. Doing something like comics allows for things to be a little hectic and out of order. This allows for more freedom in how you can place the pictures. Also, it’s easier to work with smaller pieces.

The bow has been wiped down and is ready for comic application!
All comiced up

Next I worked on the heel. Here it is, nice and clean.
And here’s a heel covered with comics. And the CrossGen logo, of course.
Side view
I didn’t like the pink, so I used black craft paint to cover it up.
Here’s the finished heels
And here are the finished shoes! I applied a layer of clear spray paint (satin finish), and two layers of Scotchguard.

I used the matte ModPodge, because I like that look better. Too many patent leather shoes for school as a child I think. The only thing I will do differently going forward is to invest in clear coat that’s designed for objects that are flexible. It’s not a big deal with these shoes, since they’re so strappy, but other shoes will be more difficult to get into.

I also noticed the application of the ModPodge, spray paint and Scotchguard shrank the shoes slightly across the top. I am unsure if this is because of the non-flexible spray paint, however.  Each pair of shoes took about eight hours, start to finish.  That includes cutting out the pictures and waiting for glue to dry between coats.

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Doctor Fate – 2010

Doctor Fate

This is the beginning of Jen’s DragonCon and costuming journey, so the pictures are a little sparse compared to other pages. I went with a Victorian-inspired costume.

Here’s my step-by-step process:

  1. Concept art
  2. Patterns and fabrics
  3. “Found” pieces
  4. Making and customizing pieces
  5. Props
  6. Putting it all together

1.Concept Art. I never start a costuming project without concept art. That way, I always have something to look at when I’m getting frustrated with a small detail.

Female Doctor Fate concept sketch
Female Doctor Fate concept sketch

2.Patterns and fabric

This is the pattern I selected, minus the sleeves
Here’s a picture of the pattern cut out
  • I went with this shiny blue fabric for the dress.
  • I also used some gold padded fabric to make the “corset”, although I didn’t snag any pictures of it.

Top3.“Found” pieces.

  • I found these boots at the local thrift store. Unfortunately, the boots disintegrated about two hours after I started wearing them.

    There was some sort of spandex "sock" attached
    There was some sort of spandex “sock” attached

Top4.Making and customizing pieces

  • Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures of my process. Here’s a shot of putting the dress together:
  • I ended up painting the toes of the boots gold, but no pictures.
  • Here’s the completed dress:

Top5.Props

  • Since I was going with a theme version instead of something straight out of a comic book page, I decided to make a spellbook.

    I had this book lying around, so I brush-painted it gold
    I had this book lying around, so I brush-painted it gold
  • Doctor Fate’s symbol is an ankh, so I made one out of cardboard and painted it, to attach to the front of the spellbook.

Top6.Putting it all together
I managed to find one picture of the whole outfit
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Jaq – 2011

For DragonCon 2010, a number of Jen’s friends decided to dress as their Shadowrun tabletop characters. Jen didn’t have a character (yet), but she wanted to dress up too. So, with the help of her friends, they were able to piece together this outfit in about twenty minutes on Saturday during the convention:

Jen had so much fun doing it, she decided to update the costume for DragonCon 2011!

Here’s the step-by-step process:

  1. Concept art
  2. Patterns and fabrics
  3. “Found” pieces
  4. Making and customizing pieces
  5. Props
  6. Putting it all together

1.Concept art. Since I had put this costume together already, the concept art was more what I wanted the costume to evolve into.

2.Patterns and fabric
Since I already had the majority of the pieces, no patterns or new fabric was required.

3.“Found” pieces

Here are the arm things from 2010. They were actually knee-high socks that I cut the toes out of.
I found these arm warmers online. They’ve got the black and green stripes I was looking for. I still can’t decide which ones I prefer.
To replace the jeans I wore last year, I bought these skinny jeans with holes in them from the local thrift store.
I bought this tactical vest on Amazon. The plan is to use the pouches to attach to a bodice I already own to make my own “tactical corset”.
Weapon belt, also ordered from Amazon.
The biggest compliment I got in 2010 was on the gold boots. The ones worn in 2010 disintegrated, so I ordered a new pair. Also in the picture is a weapon holster. All things were ordered from Amazon.

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4.Making and customizing pieces

I took the pouches off the tactical vest and attached them to a bodice I already had.

5.Props

  • We used Airsoft guns, but I don’t have any pictures right now of them.

6.Putting it all together

The finished product!

The rigger and pilot
Be nice to “the help”. They’re the ones who will be picking you up after the mission.

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Morgue – 2011

The gunslinger
Yes, he talks to God. Yes, God is a gun.

Morgue v2

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Deathstroke – 2011

Deathstroke: The Terminator

Deathstroke

I wanted to do Deathstroke as my very first comic book villain, debuted at DragonCon 2011 in Atlanta GA. Here’s my step-by-step process:

  1. Concept art
  2. Patterns and fabric
  3. “Found” pieces
  4. Making and customizing pieces
  5. Props
  6. Putting it all together

1. Concept art. I never start a costuming project without concept art. That way, I always have something to look at when I’m getting frustrated with a small detail.

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Concept sketch

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2. Patterns and fabric.With some help from Brian, it was decided to do this costume in three pieces – an overshirt (the navy blue), a leotard made of light blue and orange, and navy blue leggings.

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I used the Green Pepper pattern (the far right without attaching the skirt) for the leotard after a lot of research and consideration. The pattern allowed me to use multiple colors for the leotard, since the construction was in two pieces – a top and bottom. I also selected a glove pattern from Butterick(the middle on the left side) mostly for the gauntlet portion of the glove.
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I purchased all the spandex I needed from SpandexWorld. Their shipping was fast and the customer service was great. Because no comic book character is complete without spandex. I purchased some orange pleather from Fabric.com

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3. “Found” pieces. Some of the costume pieces, I “found” rather than made.

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I found a navy Underarmour shirt in the men’s section of the local sporting goods store. I went with the Heat Gear version because it had the collar that I wanted, and the added benefit of helping me stay cool in the Atlanta heat.
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I found a pair of navy leggings at Forever 21for about $5. I couldn’t pass up that great deal!
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I found a pair of white gloves at Party City after a failed attempt to make gloves of my own.
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I found a pair of orange go-go boots on Amazon. I ordered the Funtasma brand, which come in an array of colors and leather styles. The sizes tend to run about a half-size small, which worked out great for me, since I wear a 7 1/2 US.

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4. Making and customizing pieces. After collecting all I could that was “found”, the next step is to modify what I “found” so it fits what I want, and make whatever I couldn’t find.

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After cropping the Underarmour shirt, I put a band of thin elastic along the bottom to keep it down and flat.
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I made the leotard out of light blue and orange spandex. I modified the bottom of the pattern to make “shorts” by changing the slope of the front, as pictured below. Other than this modification and not adding the skirt, I followed the pattern exactly.
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After the leotard was put together, before sleeves were added.
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I added about two inches to the glove pattern to make the longer gauntlets I desired. I used a stiff interfacing and put the same shape of white broadcloth on top and stitched the two together.
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I attached the gauntlet to the pre-bought gloves
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To make buccaneer-style boots, I made “boot toppers” loosely based on the gauntlet pattern. I measured the width of my calf where the top of the boot comes to, and measured how long I wanted the “fold-over” to be. From the top to the bottom, I cut a slanted line that mimics the slanted line of the gauntlet. When I wore the boots, I put the seam to the inside, where the zipper would normally be, and tucked the top of the “topper” into the top of the boot, which gave a great illusion of it all being one piece without seams showing.
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The mask was the biggest challenge for me. I wanted the mask to be smooth, with no crazy wavy action or bumps. I ended up using a pattern for a bondage mask, simply because it had the perfect shape. I took the measurements of my head and drew the pattern on a piece of spandex using chalk.
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Once I got the shape that matched the front, I cut out two sides, one orange and one blue. Using a zigzag stitch and slightly stretching the fabric as I ran it through the sewing machine (this prevents a lot of the bunching that spandex likes to do), I made the front half and stuck it on a Styrofoam wig head.
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I then cut out the back of the mask pattern and attached it the same way. Because the original pattern is for leather, I opted to leave out the tongue, since spandex has more give in it. I also didn’t include the grommets. With help from Brian, I put the mask on and he helped me draw eyeholes.
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I cut eyeholes out and secured the edges with clear nail polish, to prevent unraveling. I then cut out pieces of white interfacing with a wide weave, so I could see through it. Using a blue acrylic paint, I painted the eye cover on the blue side. Using fabric glue, I attached both eye covers. On the white side, I used white acrylic paint to continue with the design past where I needed to see, and then used black acrylic to provide the “comic” outline on the eye. On the blue side, I used a little more blue acrylic paint to sort of cement the eye cover.

I made some ties of matching spandex and attached them at the side seams. They weren’t terribly functional, but helped to make the back of the mask look pretty good.

I added a collar to the navy Underamour shirt, using a slight variation on this pattern.

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5. Props

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We found an unpainted wooden sword on Amazon. I knew I wasn’t going to be drawing the sword, so I wanted something that was lightweight and was going to look good
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We found a Batman-style ammo belt on Amazon as well.
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I went with a desert camouflage-colored gun holster since I was trying to go for orange
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I took the wooden sword and used black acrylic paint, silver craft paint, copper craft paint and leather strappings glued on. I knew I wasn’t going to be pulling the sword out, so I painted a scabbard on.
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I attempted to dye to ammo belt, gun holster and gloves using RIT Sunshine Orange. I discovered the ammo belt was more fabric than I realized, the gun holster was waterproof and the gloves were made of polyester. All of that means that the dye didn’t take hold quite the way I wanted. I ended up using an orange fabric paint for everything, and a silver craft paint for buckles and snaps.

I ordered the bandolier from Amazon and filled it with plastic bullets from Party City.

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6. Putting it together

  • Finishing touches – adding bands of orange spandex to the ends of the sleeves of the Underarmour shirt and a band of orange spandex to the leg of the leggings (attaching the top only)
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Two Face – 2011

Two Face