If you know me, it will be no surprise that Mara Jade is my all time favorite Star Wars character. Not only is she a strong woman with a temper to match her hair, but she has the kind of baggage and backstory that you can only get in a world as vast and complicated as Star Wars has become. For those of you who don't know who she is, let me try and be brief. She was raised by the Emperor to be his personal errand girl/assassin/experiment. She was trained to follow orders and to kill but only under orders and never maliciously, thus she never was tainted by the Dark Side. Her story goes on from there, but if you really want to know more, go read Timothy Zahn's books.
Zahn's books brings me to the purpose of this post. I discovered that he would be at a convention in my city and decided that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to create a costume that would challenge me. Mara it had to be, but not just any version of her, I had seen many different Cosplays of her in her black jump suit, and lets just say that look would not be good for me. I narrowed my scope down to another iconic image of her, that is Cosplayed less often, her green dress.
That decided I also came to the conclusion that I couldn't do the outfit strait, I had to have fun with it, so I mixed in another love of mine, Streampunk. Yes, I decided to do a Steampunk version of Mara Jade, let the fun begin.
First challenge was finding the right kind of fabric. At first I was just going to go the cheep rout and go with a green cotton. Then I had my eyes opened by a friend of mine to the vast and interesting world of silks. I found the perfect green silk noil, with a not so perfect price tag, around $27 a yard, and the pattern I settled on was going to take 5 yards at a minimum. That price was a little high for me, so into another new world, buying fabric online, never done that before. Found the same fabric for $15 a yard, in the same shade of green, that price tag was a little more manageable. Then, I got a BRILLIANT idea (see: sarcasm), if I could get it at that price dyed, how much cheaper would it be if I were to dye it myself? I discovered the joys of Dharma Trading, an amazing site for buying fabrics.
The fabric I wanted was only $7 a yard! Granted I would have to dye it; how hard could that be, right?
Lucky me, I have a friend who has dyed fabric before, she came over to my house and we got to work. Half the day later, and an extra trip to JoAnn's for more dye, the fabric was dyed. I was not extremely happy with the color; it was too blue and not bright enough. I decided to sit on it and see if it grew on me.
A week later, I still didn't like it so back in the dying pot it went (this time all by myself). Color turned out better, it still wasn't as bright as I wanted, but I could live with it.
I was then two weeks out from the convention, in which I was planning on debuting the dress. First I did a test run of the skirt pattern, and boy was I glad I did. Once again I learned why it is you read all the way through directions before plowing ahead on a brand new pattern.
In the midst of all this my power sewing machine had to go in for a tune up (it was running odd), so I was left with my back-up machine, a 1914 White Rotatory Treadle. Yes I said treadle, as in not electric but people powered.
Turned out to be a God-send. My 100 year old machine can go from sewing through two layers of silk to 8 layers of folded fabric, without missing a stitch!
That brings me to Friday Night (I am debuting the dress Saturday) and I still have no shirt and my epaulettes are not totally finished, nor have i figured out how I am going to attach them to my outfit.
I stay up until 2am trying to get a form fitting top made, which turned out to be a hot mess. After a few hours of sleep I pulled out a sleeveless top that fits me well and made a quick pattern off it and sewed a top in 20 minutes. Last coat of paint was added to the epaulettes 20 minutes before I planned on leaving.
I made it to the convention and was pleased when right off the bat I was recognized for who I was Cosplaying! Best part of all, getting to meet Timothy Zahn and having him request a picture with me!
While still on that high, I did meet some more awesome people, but that is a story for another time.
After the Con, I put the costume away (despite some of the changes and fixes that needed to be done) and decided to work on props. That was an adventure and a post for another day.
Worbla came into my world and I decided it was time to re-make the epaulettes.
Emerald City ComicCon slowly creeped up, and I decided to enter Mara in their Costume Contest. There was a lot I wanted to do in order to get this up to something I would want to be seen on stage in, so back to the studio to futz with paint, warbla, electronics, and hot glue.
In short I got the outfit "ready" and Saturday of the Con came up, and I was awoken at 5am to the sound of "there is a lake in the basement!" Long story short, ice-maker in the freezer in our kitchen failed and filled the kitchen and flowed through the air ducts into the basement. I was prepared not to go, but my family kicked me out of the house around 8am (after water had been shut off and everything moped up).
In the confusion of the morning pieces were forgotten at home, namely my wig, but I made it to ECCC, and did my first big costume show. Had a blast, as you only can while waiting in a line for long periods of time with complete strangers who are just as geeky.