Thursday, August 5, 2010

five questions about a comic-con costume - 3 of 5

by frédérik sisa

My interview with Anna about her Dalek costume at Comic-Con '10 continues. Questions 1 and 2; 3 is below.

3. How did you make the costumes, and with what materials?

I did a lot of sketches when I first got the idea, just to wrap my head around all the shapes and details that trigger "DALEK!" when you see them. Then I did a lot of sketches incorporating those details onto a dress-shape. In the end I was pretty close to my sketches, but the skirt doesn't flare as much as I'd originally planned.

I actually wasted about 6 yards of muslin on tests, using store-bought patterns for dresses or skirts, or just trying to wing it.

In the end I actually based a lot of it (the entire skirt and 'fender' ruffle) on the actual Dalek build blueprints, from those online groups who build life-size Daleks as a hobby. I downloaded the 2005 series plans and did a LOT of Pythagorean Theorem maths to scale it down to fit me. I still have a HUGE stack of papers covered in notes and calculations and measurements.

Once I had the measurements for all the pieces (the skirt is 11 main panels, and each main panel has 3 fender panels at the bottom... all of which had to be scaled down) I drew them onto pattern paper, which I then cut out.

For that early phase, my most useful tools were a red sharpie, pattern paper, muslin, scissors, a calculator, and Classic Doctor Who episodes, haha.

The top, as I mentioned, was all sorts of fail. I finally found a prom dress pattern that I could use, but it was still a bit baggy. My cousin is a professional seamstress, so I ended up having to get her help fitting it to me properly and helping with the lace-up closure on the back. But aside from that and a bit of soldering help from a friend for the hat, I did everything myself. :3 It really became my baby and I got angry if people offered or tried to help. Almost territorial.. "NOOO DON'T TOUCH! It's my project! I have to make it! All by myself! I don't need help! If you help then it's sort of your project too and I want it to by mine!"

I have the entire dress made out of uber cheap muslin, too, since I did not have enough taffeta to afford a screw up. Basically it was a LOT of trial and error. I make it sound like I did all sorts of planning ahead of time, but a lot of it was making it up as I went along. I don't really have the patience or attention span to sit and think and plan perfectly ahead of time; I'd rather jump right in and see how things work. Which then leads to all sorts of fail, haha, but in the end it comes together.

One detail I didn't mention there is the top part of the dress. The darker bit is the same bronzy fabric, but with four layers of blach mesh over it. The vertical lines and the straps are a sparkley bronze ribbon.

It took a long time. I started in August just after getting back from Con and finished the day of Halloween. And even then, some of it was just "good enough" for Halloween. The gloves you saw at the Con were a more polished version I threw together just before leaving. During all the failed attempts and beginning of the final product, I went through all of series 1-4, The Next Doctor, Planet of the Dead, and a whole slew of Fourth Doctor stories on Netflix. So much of that was tracing patterns, cutting, and so, so much pinning. Never ending hours of pinning fabric together. Most of that was on the muslin version, too. Cutting, pinning and sewing the final dress took less than a week.
Two more questions to go. Stay tuned! And remember the giveaway!

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