Emily (foresthouse) wrote,

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NADWCon2011: Costume Extravaganza!

Despite my being super-busy working during NADWCon, I still had a lot of fun; and one thing I had fun with (both before, in putting things together, and at the con itself) was the costuming. Now, I'm not a "costumer," in the sense of the amazing people I know who sit down and make a whole intricate Victorian walking suit out of bolts of cloth, ingenuity, and a lot of hard work (and those people are out there. There are lots more than you'd think, and they're awesome!). I'm more of a costumer in the sense of "buy a bunch of stuff you think will work together, make a few little things you can't buy, beg and borrow some help from others if needed, and put it all together in hopes it works out." But happily, often it does work out, and I was pretty pleased with how my costumes came together for NADWCon this year. Of course, I did have a fair bit of help in some of these, because due to taking over as Chair in June I suddenly had a lot less time than I'd intended to finish things up. So BIG PROPS must go to everyone who helped me, and particularly the Seamstresses' Guild. :)

The nicest thing about the costumes is that a lot of people at the con wanted to take pictures of them, and told me they really liked them (and one person even gave me a Hall Costume Token! Whee! (Yes, I know some people got many Hall Costume Tokens - but getting even one pleased me)). And that a lot of people liked them so much that they really wanted to know where I got X or Y bit of each outfit. THEREFORE!! I bring unto you all a costuming post, to tell folks where I found all the bits and pieces of my costumes, and also to maybe illustrate to others out there like me that you, too, can put a costume together without a million hours and a needle. :)

Costume I: Ikebana, Goddess of Topiary
Worn for: Opening Ceremony; Friday

Bobbee Gerson, who recruited and organized the Gods and Goddesses for the Opening Ceremony where we "welcomed the Creator," did a great job of making sure no two people were dressing as the same deity. Unfortunately, that meant that all that was left by the time I got around to trying to claim a deity for myself were the, er, "lesser" deities. :) I literally volunteered to be 3 different goddesses that no one had claimed, but was told each time that someone else had JUST volunteered for that one. Fortunately, I remembered one unclaimed goddess I could still think of some way to put together: Ikebana, Goddess of Topiary, so minor a deity that she only appears in Discworld Noir! Hee!

Unfortunately with how busy the first full day of the con was, I completely forgot to have someone take a good "posed" photo, but I have some that were taken for me from afar at the Opening Ceremony.

Here we go:

Listening to Terry:

Greeting the "Creator." We all had to introduce ourselves with a name and description, and I had (of course) not thought of anything to say beforehand, so I introduced myself with "I'm Ikebana, Goddess of Topiary, and I'm more dangerous than I appear." (*ominous snipping motion with shears*)

At the "Genuan Night Out" Seamstresses' Guild Party with my genuine Genuan mask:

Where it all came from:

White "Greek goddess" dress and gold leaves: Totally Costumes


- The gold leaves were intended to be a headpiece, and looked *ridiculous* and tacky when worn; and the gold ribbon to tie at the waist was too short to tie the way it should have gone to make the waist fit right; so I cut the headband and stapled it along the gold waist-ribbon like a wide belt, which made the waist fit better and the leaves more prominent a part of the costume.

- The dress was so incredibly short (and I've worn some short skirts, but SERIOUSLY) that I actually wore the American Apparel gold miniskirt that I'd last worn at the 2008 UK Discworld Con for my Bande With Rockes In Groupie costume underneath. That was more manageable in terms of not having to worry so much about flashing people. :)

White and gold hair fascinator:

Made by the amazing Jean Tillson, who also made the Seamstress fascinators and jewelry for the NADWCon2009 Opening Ceremony, and my amazing pretty-much-half-a-hat fascinator, with the red feathers and the little gold bird for my Christine costume at the 2010 UK Discworld Con. She made this one out of white feathers and curly gold bits, and left a space for me to pin a pin I'd found at the local street market, which was 3 gold leaves together.

Gold leaf necklace, leaf earrings, leaf pin for fascinator:

The local street market. I was literally walking through it less than a week before the trip, in the extreme heat, devoid of sleep or any sense after an entire full day and night of working on the con, and thought, "I still need stuff for my costumes! GAH! I should look around as I walk home," and found a bunch of jewelry literally on the way home. Handy!

American Apparel gold miniskirt, gold shoes, bangles, gold body glitter & lip gloss:

Stuff I owned, from the 2008 Rock Band groupie costume and other costumes, except for the shoes, which are Chinese Laundry and have seen me through many weddings and fancy things and happen to look vaguely Greek goddess-ish. The bangles came from a mall accessory store (which is actually a really neat one with some Victorian-ish things, but I can't remember the name!), and the body glitter and gloss are Wet'n'Wild, which is a fairly reliable go-to brand for outrageously sparkly/colored makeup.

Watering can, ivy garland, gardening tote with greenery, gloves, seeds, etc.:

Put together for me by Sarah Goodman of the Seamstresses' Guild, bless her. About 2 weeks before the con I put out a general call to the Yahoo message board for any possible help with last-minute items, and several folks stepped forward to help me with them. In the end, I had everything I needed!

(Fake) gardening shears:

Made for me by Erin Prindiville, our Art Show Coordinator and another member of the Seamstresses' Guild. She tells me she made them with curved blades to emulate a type of Japanese blade. Snip snip!

Mardi Gras mask for the Genuan party:

The French Quarter, New Orleans! I got this right before the con, when I was visiting with queenanthai and her husband Karl. Karl took me around a bit of New Orleans and put up with me going into about 5 shops before I found a mask I liked. As soon as I saw this one I LOVED it. I actually had my Seamstresses' Guild Party nights mixed up so got a black one to go with the Absinthe Fairy because I thought the Genua party was Saturday or Sunday, but I wore it anyway on Friday because PRETTY SPARKLY SHINY WHEE!

Costume II: Seamstress, Interrupted
Worn for: Saturday

This was one of the first costuming ideas I had for this year's con, in main part because I thought it was a way to dress as a Seamstress and still be pretty comfortable doing it. And partly because the idea really amused me: in the sense that the costume would be considered totally scandalous and pretty much wearing your underwear outside in the Victorian era, but is actually more clothes than most people go to the boardwalk in nowadays.

Fun facts:

- I went to dinner outside of the hotel with a bunch of folks, all of whom were dressed completely normally, and I was wearing this. We were far enough away from the con hotel that I was, in fact, the only person in a burger-joint type place in a costume. I didn't even really realize this until we were sitting down.

- The chemise and bloomers are made of the same matching material, but were hand-made by two different people. Etsy is a wonderful place.

- Once I picked it up, I did not, in fact, put my riding crop down for more than two minutes the entire day. I kind of love that thing. :P


In the hotel restaurant:

With Rob, who doesn't look nearly worried enough about the fact that I have a riding crop.

Where it all came from:

(What I think of as) my Adora Belle boots:

I owned the stiletto boots, which I bought for the UK Con last year to wear with another Seamstress outfit and when I was considering doing an Adora Belle costume. They are from Clockwork Couture, and are still available. I love that they're pretty comfortable for 4.5" heels, and that they have little rows of buttons up the sides. Caveat: they are not very breathable.

Satin bloomers:

Etsy! The store is vilicious, and the listing is here. The bloomers are adorable and she has lots of colors to choose from. The tricky bit: she doesn't do tops at all, only bloomers etc. However! She was happy to ship the remaining fabric from the bloomers to another Esty-er so I could have a chemise with matching materials. Hurrah!

Satin chemise:

Etsy! The gal at fairestdesigns worked with me to do a custom order of 2 chemises, one to match the bloomers here, and one for my Clacks Girl costume. :) Then she shipped the leftover materials back to me along with the chemises. Very cool!


The one flaw of the white satin bloomers is they were a tad less opaque than one would like. However! American Apparel (which I find very useful for costume bits) had just what I needed: fancy-looking cycle shorts to go underneath. :)

Underbust corset:

Ebay. I don't know if it can still be found, but the store it came from is here.

Black and purple/pink flower fascinator:

Jean Tillson again! Jean is so talented. I actually asked her is there was any way it would be easier for her to do a fascinator with one black feather base and two different centers, since both this costume and the Absinthe Fairy one could use a black base. She used Velcro for the middles! Genius! I love Jean and her fascinators.


My friend Kelly gave me the giant sparkly choker and earrings some time ago. I think I got the sparkly ring at the Monmouth County Fair one year. :)

Riding crop:

Missy, our Seamstresses' Guild Party Coordinator, had brought a bunch of these for her helpers, and just held out a bunch to me and said, "pick one!" And there was a pink and purple one. The perfect accessory I didn't know I needed until I had it! (And totally fun to carry around, mwahaha!)

Costume III: The Absinthe Fairy
Worn for: Sunday

Okay, this is both not technically a Discworld costume, and my favorite costume of the weekend, because it was such fun to put together and I liked how it turned out. Basically I got the green corset, and loved it, and wanted to do the costume just because I wanted to wear the corset. (And because the original suggestion from the store for how to wear the corset was to go out for Halloween as the Absinthe Fairy). It really is the perfect color for it.


The Absinthe Fairy is now officially part of Discworld canon. Sir Terry hath spoken, and thus it is so! Or, in other words: Over lunch at the con, I argued the case to Terry for including the Absinthe Fairy in Discworld canon as one of the entities that logically could have come into existence during the events of Hogfather, because lots of people believe in the Absinthe Fairy.

Paraphrased-but-pretty-accurate ensuing conversation:

Terry: "Does she wear a corset?"
Emily: "Yes."
Terry: "And very high shoes?"
Emily: "Yes. And in fact, there is also a floofy little skirt involved."
Terry: "Oh, well, yes, then, I certainly think that would be okay! Yes, I do give my permission."


With Terry and Neil, who was impressed by the cool tights:

Close up for the jewelry and the fan:

Where it all came from:

Ridiculously high green shoes:

Bordello By Pleaser Women's Teeze-07L Platform Pump

You can get these several places, but I think I got mine from Amazon? I can't recall. Despite the 5.5" heels, these are actually not too uncomfortable to wear (pretty much no more so than most heels), and I did not break an ankle or even fall down once all day! I needed someone to hold on to while walking downhill in the parking garage, because (as you can see if you look at the Amazon page) the front of the shoe goes up in such a way that level or uphill surfaces are fine, but walking downhill makes you feel like you might fall on your face. Heh.

The infamously impressive tights:

Etsy! There is a great store that sells what they call "Tattoo Socks" and I have three pairs. Butterflies, snowflakes (got a run in those because I'm an idiot, gahhh!), and the flora ones I got for this costume. I actually debated painting a little sparkly green into the design, but didn't have a ton of time and decided I liked them as-is. :)

Froofy black skirt:

American Apparel. I told you they're great for costume stuff. These skirts are soft and floofy and fun and you can wear them with the ruffled layers on the inside or outside. I wore them outside. :)

Black bloomers:

Ah-hah! Bet you didn't know I was wearing bloomers unless maybe you are one of the people who was sitting near the edge of the stage while I was on it, hee. BUT FORTUNATELY for me, Missy (of riding crop fame) sewed me 2 pairs of short bloomers for this and my Clacks Girl outfit, so I could essentially run around as a Chair must do, comfortable in the knowledge that I was actually wearing shorts even if no one knew it and that I wasn't going to accidentally flash the world (flashing my bloomers on purpose is another thing entirely. ;)

The black bloomers had adorable black lace along the bottom edges.

Absinthe corset:

The corset came from Clockwork Couture, although it is unfortunately no longer available. I luff it liek whoa.

Green and black feather fascinator:

Jean Tillson! This is the same one as for Seamstress, Interrupted, but with the different velcro center. Nice!

Fairy wings:

Amazon! Missy actually ordered these for me and brought them along, which was very helpful re: packing!

Absinthe jewelry (necklace and earrings):

These were made (or rather "assembled from parts") by me. Some of the findings (earring hooks, jump rings, silver chain, metal glue) came from my favorite local bead store, Beadazzled in Dupont Circle. They're always really helpful in helping you find what you need, and were also the source of the bright green glass beads that matched the corset perfectly.

Other findings (silver charm trays, epoxy drops) came from Buy Just 5 Supply on Etsy, who were very easy to work with and put together a custom order for me.

The absinthe bits (dollhouse-sized absinthe bottles, glasses, boxes of sugar cubes, tiny parchment pages with diagrams of the 3 main herbs used in absinthe, and "Absinthe Encyclopedias") came from Kaleidoskopic Romance. She was very helpful and also did a custom order.

The black lace choker is actually a black lace garter from Totally Costumes. I cut off the rhinestone cross, obviously! I started working on the jewelry while on the plane prior to the con, first sewing on the green glass beads, and the woman next to me said, "so, who's getting married?" Hee! Well spotted, but not quite. :P

Everything is either held together with thread, jewelry glue, or being clamped together with pliers. The herb charms are jewelry trays with green nail polish (really) background and the parchment herbs over that; covered with an epoxy drop.

Black lace fan:

Totally Costumes, but moderated with accessories, i.e. the aforementioned absinthe charms were added to this as well. This was actually done by My Lovely Roommate And Number One Minion, Erica, on the morning before I wore the costume (or was it the morning of...?) which was also when I finished most of the necklace and earrings, heh.


The green glitter I had everywhere is NYX Glitter Gel, from Amazon. (And BIG thanks go here to our publicity director (and my friend) Viv, who took delivery of this and about 6 other packages at her Madison home so I'd have them by the start of the con, since I was traveling for 15 days beforehand.)

The nail polish, which matches the corset perfectly and is a favorite of mine, is Sally Hansen "Glow."


You can't be an Absinthe Fairy without REAL ABSINTHE, right?? This Kubler (Swiss) absinthe was obtained for me by Missy and Matthew (pictured with it here) and Matthew prepared it properly at the Sunday Seamstresses' Guild Party, with sugar and all. It was really good. I didn't expect to like it that much, because I don't love black licorice, but: mmmm. :) If I hadn't been so tired I'd have had more, but in the true manner of an Absinthe Fairy spreading joy everywhere, I told Matthew to let anyone else who wanted a glass have some too. :)

Costume IV: The Duchess of Quirm
Worn for: The Gala Banquet

Wisconsin is known for several things, and one of the biggest ones is Cheese. Yes, in Wisconsin I really think it should be capitalized. So naturally we wanted to work the local culture into the con, and thus, the Gala Banquet was set in Quirm, also known (in Discworld) for Cheese, and the banquet favors had to do with cows and cheese (see my posts on the Petite Quirmignon Cow for details). :P Somewhere along the way it was also determined that Jon and I should host the banquet (make the announcements and such) and that we should do so as the Duke and Duchess of Quirm. Therefore: I needed a fancy fancy Victorian-style dress but had none. Crivens!

[I will note here that by the time of narrated events in the Discworld stories, the Duchess of Quirm is a Dowager Duchess, and older than I, and has a full-grown son. But I figured at some point she was certainly my age and therefore, I would just costume as "The Duchess of Quirm when she was my age." Because why not? I have pockets of laziness, and one of them includes not wanting to have to wear a wig or something for a costume. Younger version = no grey hair, no wrinkles, etc. :)]

Of course when you need a full-fledged fancy dress, where else do you go but The Internet? And boy did it ever deliver! (I think I got more compliments on this costume than any other except maybe the Absinthe Fairy.) But more on that in a moment.


Me (with my chic accessory, a pet Quirmian swamp dragon), in front of the famous Quirmian Floral Clock, which was made by a volunteer and was fantastic! One of the people from the local costuming store, Ravenworks, is a photographer and volunteered to take photos of folks at the banquet, so everyone had the opportunity to get a nice photo like this:

Me with...hmm...well, I don't know that he was in any kind of character, so we shall call him A Gentleman of Quirm. I have to opine that while swamp dragons are chic accessories, bottles of champagne are even better.

Where it all Came From:

Victorian-style dress:

Remarkably, I had a fairly easy time finding a place that sold Victorian-style dresses that were at least vaguely affordable. The place where I got mine is VictorianChoice2009 on eBay, and does both Victorian and Civil War style dresses. I found this one and liked it but didn't order immediately because I was looking into borrowing one. By the time I decided to buy, the listing had been sold. However! They were happy to list the dress for me again and make a new one, with the understanding that it might take a month to get it done. It actually was more like...3 weeks? Very fast service, and the dress is very nice!

It has a side zip to make it easy to get into, and corset-back lacing that was essential in adjusting it to fit properly, since you can order by size (S, M, L, etc.) but not by actual measurements. I needed a little last-minute help in getting the corset lacings properly adjusted on my way to the Banquet, but fortunately a clever wordsmith gallantly stepped in to aid me:

Mon, 15:23: RT @foresthouse: @neilhimself So nice to see you again, and so glad you had fun. Thanks for helping me before the banquet... :)

Mon, 15:23: RT @neilhimself: @foresthouse Always happy to lace up a damsel in that dress.



Well of course I didn't have a hoop skirt lying around anywhere, having just purchased the sort of dress where you need one. *However* Jean Tillson again came to my rescue and lent me hers, with hoops and tulle layers. Note to those who haven't worn hoop skirts before: I recommend you wear something else underneath besides the skirts, because otherwise it feels weird (to me); I opted for shorts.

Quirmian swamp dragon:

I was so pleased to find this little guy on Amazon. He looks just like a Discworldian / Paul Kidby-esque swamp dragon! (And is totally adorable, too.) I named him Snorebitz Quentof Sharpenhoe of Quirm, all three names coming from a real-life list or approved pedigreed dog names (thank you, Viv, for providing me with said list, heh). The list, hilariously, even had "Redwizzard" as one of the approved names. (Note spelling.) :P

Naturally swamp dragons need to be properly accessorized too, but fortunately my fancy dress came with a choker that I opted not to wear. Instead, it fit perfectly as my little dragon's collar. I wanted to make him a nameplate for his illustrious name, but sadly did not have time.

Gold purse:

I needed a new nice gold purse anyway. This one actually matched the middle part of my dress exactly. Excellent!

Old-fashioned-y brass jewelry:

Found the necklace charm and earrings at the aforementioned local street market. I love the charm - it's a little egg that actually opens. So cute.

Gold shoes:

Haha! Told you those Chinese Laundry shoes are versatile.

Gold fan:

A lovely gift from the lovely Anna (aka Lady Bon Anna at this year's Friday ceremony, hee, and another member of the Seamstresses' Guild) that came from Asian Ideas.

Costume V: Clacks Girl from Going Postal
Worn for: Monday

I've wanted to do this one for awhile, given that I have the Actual Green Bow that was part of the Actual Movie Costume. It was remarkably harder than you'd expect to find all the pieces, though!

For this one I actually had a Photo Reference. Here are a couple of shots from the movie:

The costumes vary a bit, but I was aiming to get as close as possible to the outfit the front girl is wearing in that first photo. I didn't have time to make the little rose pin or finish what I wanted to do with the corset, but I think I got pretty close.


Showin' off!

Right after I had, errrrr, flashed Terry to show him I was wearing the Bloomers of A Dame. Heh.

Where it all Came From:


Blondo Women's Valeska Boot

I actually tried a different place with traditional "cowgirl" boots for these first, but really didn't like them at all. It was *really hard* to find good red boots for this. But I was totally happy with these when I got them; and not least because they are comfortable, and are actual waterproof winter boots that I can now use this coming winter. Woo!


Again, American Apparel's multi-layered petticoat is a wonderful thing.

Red skirt:

They also had a red chiffon skirt that was perfect.


Well, Missy made me a cute pair of white bloomers, but I have to confess, after being presented with the special Bloomers of a Dame with writing on the arse the day before, I decided that if there was ever a time to wear them (as opposed to framing them on the wall, hee) Monday was that time!

Green bow:

It is the Actual Bow that one of those gals was wearing in the movie. No, I have No Idea where it came from. :)


This was the other one made for me by fairestdesigns on Etsy. This one is cotton, with lace on the neck and back only to match the movie photo.


eBay and RitDye. I can't find the eBay listing anymore, sadly, but the RitDye colors were a combination of Sunshine and Tea dyes.

This was one of the things I didn't really get time to finish before costuming time. I wanted to dye it to the darker tea-color of the movie corset, and use the extra lace from the chemises, and some red cloth etc., to add the lace and rosette. I did NOT have the time (*tear*). HOWEVER. It *might* be noticeable that the corset is not exactly pure white. This could be because someone did TRY to dye it at 3 am on a Saturday night of a convention. It could be. Unfortunately, Someone did not have enough time to do a really good job of it, and the dye came out rather faintly. Maybe before the next con. :)


The lovely Marti of the Seamstresses' Guild answered my last-minute call for a baton and lent me her one from high school. Yay!


Ah, the Hat. This was Erica's greatest creation of the weekend, I think. I knew well ahead of time that I'd need to make the hat, and had thus ordered a kepi hat from Totally Costumes for the brim and ornamentation (that black strip with the gold buttons got re-used) and had red cloth, and a long strip of plastic to use as a hat form under the red part. BUT IT WAS ALL IN PIECES, ALAS. And so Erica, bless her heart, took the whole mess down to the Costumers Dungeon, went to work on it with a glue gun and possibly some staples, and when I went back to the room later, LO, MAGICALLY, THERE WAS A HAT SITTING ON MY BED. Ta-daaaaa! She did a super-awesome job, and I was really sad that this was the only thing I had to dismantle because I couldn't get it in my luggage as it was. I took it apart so I can re-make it later, though. :)

Wow. I think...I think we're done here. WHEW. That was a lot of talk about costumes. But hopefully some of you enjoyed it!

And now, a question: which one was your favorite?
Tags: clothes, costumes, discworld, discworld convention, fashion, nadwcon, shopping, terry pratchett

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  • In Which We Contemplate Twitter Following Habits

    @foresthouse: Wow, I follow a metric ton of people on here. How did that happen? @foresthouse: (Adding some new folks to lists and stuff, trying…

  • A Knight's Tale Livetweet

    You know when you get a new electronic toy, and you just want to explore all of its features, and sometimes you get carried away? Well, that's what…

  • Family is Fun! (And Adorable)

    Tonight I babysat for my adorable 3-year-old nephew Benji while my sister went to a work event. He was very good! We read 3 books, and ate dinner…