2020 Year in Review

2020 Costumes

2020 was not the year anyone expected it to be. I had big plans for a number of costumes and events, particularly because we were hoping to go to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, UK in September. But of course, the Festival was canceled, and we did not do any events after early March. Hopefully 2021 will be better, at least in the second half of the year.

My productivity level swung all over the place during these past months. When I started working from home in mid-March, not having a commute or weekend commitments meant that I had more time for sewing, and I finished a couple of historical costumes pretty quickly. However, as the weeks at home turned into months, I lost some of my costuming enthusiasm, and instead switched to other projects, such as modern clothing or things for our house. It was nice to make something that I could wear or use without having to go to a costume event. I dove back into several crafts that I used to do more often, such as crocheting, knitting, and hand embroidery. There were a few times where I picked a costuming project back up, but I continued to intersperse that work with other crafting.

During this time of switching back and forth from costuming to other crafts, I slowly finished a couple more cosplays that built upon purchased elements (Nightwing and Batman Returns Catwoman), and finished one more historical costume (a regency outfit). I also started a few things that are sitting in pieces (one regency day dress, Stephanie Brown Batgirl, and a 1780s round gown).

2020 goals
-A new regency frock coat for Mike-Yup!
-At least one regency outfit for myself-Yup!
-Stephanie Brown Batgirl-No, but I did get about 50 percent of it done.
-Continue to improve my skills and confidence at photography-Sort of. I did okay at the few events we attended early in the year, but then did not have many opportunities to practice once we could no longer do events. I am hoping next year will be better. On the plus side, I have improved my speed and efficiency at editing.

On to the photos of what I completed!

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2019 Year in Review

2019 Projects

Happy 2020! It is time to take stock of the previous year. I focused more on cosplay than historical costuming in 2019, starting with a longtime wishlist project: Red Hood. I tackled most of that costume in January when I was out of work for a few weeks. It involved a bunch of new skills, including foam armor and sewing with leather, which was a fun challenge. I also finished some costumes of my favorite characters: Animated Series Catwoman, Cassandra Cain, and Spoiler. I feel way more comfortable sewing with knits than I did a few years ago.

2019 was also a big year for photography. I have gotten way more efficient at editing, meaning I can produce photos quicker after shoots. I still need to learn to let go of some of my perfectionist tendencies there, but that has improved. I did not shoot at a ton of events this past year, usually assisting Mike instead. That put me out of practice and made me more nervous at times when I was shooting. I am not particularly happy with the photos I took at Costume Con 37, but they are fine for hall shots. I did better at the events I photographed in the second half of the year. My confidence posing in front of the camera has improved a lot, which feels great.

2019 goals
-Jason Todd Red Hood costume-Yup! This has been on my list since 2017.
-Cassandra Cain costume-Yup!
-Batman: The Animated Series Catwoman-Yup!
-Grey silk 1790s waistcoat for Mike-Yup! This has been on my list since 2015.
-Something 1880s-Nope, on hold because 2020 is going to be a regency year.
-Something regency or 18th century-Yup, I made a regency half robe.
-Be confident, on both sides of the camera-I have improved, particularly when posing as a model, but it is always a work in progress.

I only totally missed on one project (something 1880s). It feels great to cross some things off that have been on my list for a long time. That grey silk waistcoat for Mike had been hanging around for years.

In 2020 Mike and I are planning on attending the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, UK, which means we need a few more regency pieces. I can theoretically go with what I already have in the closet, but I would like to make one or two new things if possible. Mike definitely needs at least one more coat, since he only has two and one is getting pretty shabby at ten years old.

After doing better with my confidence on shooting photos in the second half of the year, I want to keep building on that. We got a new full frame camera (Nikon D850), and I want to really learn how to use it well.

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2018 Year in Review

My year in costuming was a bit all over the place, with sudden spurts of productivity alternating with sewing hiatus periods. I went to events pretty consistently throughout the year, but sometimes I just re-wore existing costumes for them. (Which does not really bother me, as I always think I haven’t gotten my effort and money’s worth unless I’ve worn a costume to at least three things.)

I did consistently work at my photography through the year, concentrating on shooting both costuming events and horse shows. Mike and I upgraded both our camera and our editing software in late 2017, and I decided that 2018 was the year to really learn how to use our new gear. I spent a lot of time practicing and reading books on different techniques.

This next year I’d really like to make some of my cosplays that have been on my wish list forever, like Red Hood. I had such a great time doing various Catwoman costumes in 2018, that I’d like to tackle some more of the DC Comics cosplays on my list. In addition, cosplaying Catwoman has taught me to be much more confident as a costumer. I really had to improve my skills with sewing knits and using a serger to make my Catwoman costumes, which was challenging but fun. I’ve also learned how to be more confident in my posing for photographs. Trying to channel a strong character like Catwoman has made me think more about how my hand placement, facial expression, and body position interact with the camera.

Next year I’d also like to work on my confidence behind the camera. I’ve spent a lot of time, brainpower, and money on improving my photography skills, and that has paid real dividends, but sometimes I experience impostor syndrome about my abilities. At times this makes me reluctant to ask to take photos of people at events, especially when others are also taking photos. I don’t want to intrude or step on others’ toes for fear of seeming like a pushy photographer who is ruining the ambiance. I also feel a lot of pressure to produce “perfect” images, because otherwise I might be letting people down. This results in wasted hours of me editing, overworking my raw files and getting stressed. All that being said, I’m not going to back down from this hobby. The only way I will overcome these emotions is to keep going out there and producing images.

Okay, enough with the talk. Here are the costumes I finished this year:

2018 goals
-DC Bombshells Catwoman-Yup!
-Striped 18th century gown-Yup!
-Princess Cadence-Yup!
-Grey silk 1790s waistcoat for Mike-Nope! This one just keeps sadly rolling over from year to year….
-Jason Todd Red Hood costume-Nope! Though I did make the pants, so that’s something.

Knightmare Catwoman (photo by Dan Arango)
DC Cosplay Photo Shoots

Striped 1780s gown
Francaise Dinner

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2017 Year in Review

Well, there were some ups and downs in 2017. The year started with me being super busy at work, then being much less busy, and ended with me being super busy again. During the slow times I managed to finish a few big projects, though not as much as I would have liked. We’ll see what I manage to get done in 2018.

2017 goals
-Finish 1780s purple silk dress-Yup!
-Jim Balent-era Catwoman costume-Yup! (Twice!)
-Grey silk 1790s waistcoat for Mike-Nope.
-New regency day dress-Yup!
-Jason Todd Red Hood costume-Nope, but I started gathering materials.
-Something either 18th C or late Victorian for me, but I’m not sure what-Yup! (Turned out to be a chintz Italian gown.)

-1780s purple silk dress
Williamsburg Holiday Promenade

-Jim Balent-era Catwoman v1.0
PAX East

-Princess Luna
PAX East

-Chintz Italian gown
Fort Fred

-Closet 1940s-esque outfit
Winterthur Point-to-Point 2017

-Mid-1700s Provincial Belle
Awesome Con

-Checked regency
Checked Regency Dress

PAX Unplugged

-Jim Balent-era Catwoman v2.0
PAX Unplugged

-Queenie Goldstein
PAX Unplugged

-Black silk mantle
Williamsburg Holiday Promenade

2018 goals
-DC Bombshells Catwoman
-Striped 18th century gown
-Princess Cadence
-Grey silk 1790s waistcoat for Mike
-Jason Todd Red Hood costume

2016 Year in Review

Looking back at my costumes this past year, they lean way more towards cosplay than historical. There’s a pretty easy explanation for this: I started a 10-13 hour per day work schedule in August (including working weekends), so I could only do projects that use more pre-made components. Thankfully, that schedule ends this next week. Which means I can hopefully shift back to more sewing-intensive projects. That’s the hope at least!

2016 goals
-Finish yellow regency ballgown (I did a lot on New Year’s Day, just needs some interior seam finishing)–Yup!
-Finish ruby Queen Anne-style necklace–Yup!
-Finish Kiss the Girl Ariel costume (the wig and hair bow need work)–Yup!
-Make a new dress for the Francaise Dinner (I have some purple silk laid aside)–Nope, though I am about 75% done with this.
-Hipster Dude Kamala Kahn Ms. Marvel costume for Mike–Yup!
-Finish Ed Benes-era Black Canary costume–Yup!
-Grey silk 1790s waistcoat for Mike–Nope.
-New regency day dress–Nope.
-Jim Balent-era Catwoman costume–Nope.
-Arrow TV show leather jacket–Nope, on hold because Mike ended up purchasing a jacket he liked.

-Yellow regency ballgown
Riversdale Ball

-Ruby Queen Anne-style necklace

-Rainbow Dash v1.0

-1760s John Hesselius necklace

-Rainbow Dash v2.0
PAX East

-Kiss the Girl Ariel
PAX East

-Hipster Dude Kamala Kahn Ms. Marvel
Baltimore Comic-Con

-Ed Benes-era Black Canary
Baltimore Comic-Con

-DC Comics Bombshells Batwoman
Bombshells Batwoman

-Officer Judy Hopps
Judy Hopps

2017 goals
-Finish 1780s purple silk dress
-Jim Balent-era Catwoman costume
-Grey silk 1790s waistcoat for Mike
-New regency day dress
-Jason Todd Red Hood costume
-Something either 18th C or late Victorian for me, but I’m not sure what

2015 Year in Review

2015 was productive, but was interrupted by us buying a house. I love the house, but moving certainly put a cramp on sewing for a few months. Hence the end of my list didn’t come to pass. Now that I have my sewing space fully set up, hopefully I will get more done in 2016!

2015 Costumes

2015 goals
-Linen checked 1790s waistcoat for Mike (just needs buttons sewn on)–Yup!
-Make some new regency hairpieces and/or wigs–I fixed one, but didn’t make more.
-Finish 1890s skirt (needs closures)–Yup!
-Sheer net regency overdress–Yup!
-Yellow silk anglaise (bodice is already cut out)–Yup!
-Patrice Bergeron Pegasus costume for Mike (to go with Rask Pony)–Yup!
-Finish 1780s frock coat for Mike–Yup! This was on my list since at least 2012.
-Take in green francaise and make new stomacher–I took it in, but didn’t make a new stomacher.
-New regency ballgown–Started, but didn’t finish.
-Grey silk 1790s waistcoat for Mike–Nope.
-New regency day dress–Nope.

-1890s skirt
1890s Skirt

-Linen checked 1790s waistcoat (plus I pad stitched new interfacing in the frock coat collar)
Riversdale 12th Night

-Sheer net regency overdress
Birthnight Ball

-Yellow silk anglaise
Williamsburg 2015

-Patrice Bergeron Pegasus costume (I also made the legwarmers for Beth’s Henrik Lundqvist Pegasus costume)
PAX East

-1770s wig
1770s Wig

-Re-fitted francaise
Francaise Dinner

-1780s frock coat
Francaise Dinner

-A League of Their Own costume
Awesome Con

And then we moved, so I switched to house projects.

-Ikea hack ironing table
Ironing Table

-Ikea hack curtains and pillows

-Chair cover

Meanwhile, I took on some projects/commissions for my Etsy business, In the Long Run Designs. (I also made a bunch of jewelry and other knits, not pictured.)

-Fan based on a 1790s one at Colonial Williamsburg (Acc. No. 1975.310.1, owned by Deborah Richmond)
Bath Gift Fan

-Fan with an early 1800s woodcut design
Musical Instrument Fan

-Fans for Silence in the Library‘s Pride and Prejudice Illustrated project
Pride and Prejudice Fans

-Olive green 18th C mitts
Olive Green Mitts

-Teal silk/wool 18th C mitts (for sale here)
Teal Mitts

And I started embroidering again. (Besides these two, I also made another showing two horses and a fox hound, not pictured.)

-Sleeping foxes wall hanging
Sleeping Foxes

-Fox wall hanging

Plus, for Halloween…

-Rainbow Dash
Jumper Show

2016 goals
-Finish yellow regency ballgown (I did a lot on New Year’s Day, just needs some interior seam finishing)
-Finish ruby Queen Anne-style necklace
-Finish Kiss the Girl Ariel costume (the wig and hair bow need work)
-Make a new dress for the Francaise Dinner (I have some purple silk laid aside)
-Hipster Dude Kamala Kahn Ms. Marvel costume for Mike
-Finish Ed Benes-era Black Canary costume
-Grey silk 1790s waistcoat for Mike
-New regency day dress
-Jim Balent-era Catwoman costume
-Arrow TV show leather jacket

30 Day Cosplay Challenge: Day 29

What is your favourite cosplay item? (eg. a pair of shoes, a wig)

I’m going to cheat and say it is not a garment or accessory, but my camera. I love taking photos of costumers and cosplayers, and I also love looking at the photos later. My usual camera is an Olympus E-PM1, with a fixed focal length 17mm f1.8 lens.

30 Day Cosplay Challenge: Day 28

Where do you work on your cosplays and where do you store them when they’re done?

I have a sewing/craft room that I work in when I need to use a sewing machine or cut out large pieces of fabric. Otherwise, I sew on the couch in front of the TV. As for storage, I have a closet in the craft room that holds most of my stuff. Although I’m running out of room….

30 Day Cosplay Challenge: Day 27

How many wigs do you own? Which is your favourite?

I’m not sure how many wigs I own, but I’ve filled a couple small storage bins with them. I wear wigs often, because my hair is difficult to curl or put fake color onto.

In terms of which are my favorite, I do like wigs from Arda Wigs and Epic Cosplay. The blonde wig I have for my Stephanie Brown Robin is from Epic, and the short wig below is from Arda. They are good quality and reasonably priced. I also get costume wigs from Vogue Wigs.