Why?

Because all experiences are valuable.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Queen of Spades Costume, Royal Flush Spades

I can't believe I'm still catching up on blogging about my costuming efforts from last year's DragonCon, but then again the internet is kinda timeless, so what does it matter. My post on how I made my green Jeannie costume remains my number one most view post of all time.

So, last year 2012, I wanted to do a Dark Alice in Wonderland sort of thing for our group. I knew I wanted to be the Queen of Spades. As the idea evolved, we became A Royal Flush of Spades with me, Mike (King), Reid (Ace), Guy (Jack) and Grace(ten). Then we added Eva and James because they were coming in from Little Rock. SO now we were more like...the royal family of spades plus the nine and eight? I wanted to make this make sense and thought the royal party would of course include a dark "cheshire cat" and their wizard or suitable prognosticator, right? So the Nine (Eva) became a kitty with nine lives and a cat o'nine tails accessory. The Eight (James) carried a "magic 8 ball" for offering future predictions. Here's a picture of the whole party.


 You can see the colors stuck to black, white, purple, silver and harlequin.  Each person has every one of those colors and patterns, though it is hard to see on the Kitty. She has a purple bow on her ears and she had a harlequin bow on her tail. My Queen underskirt is purple. One important element I designed is the sleeve insets on the men. I will tell you how to make those later. The men's vests are all from the same pattern. McCall's 4321 View D.
   I sat down and wrote out a list of each character and what the main color of their vest would be, the lapels, and the lining. Then what color was missing from the vest and so what color shirt did I want to use, making sure each was different. Mike's King lapel and shirt insets had to be silver because he is the King. I knew I wanted to make the back of Reid's Ace shirt into an Ace Card, so his needed to be white. The Jack just had to be purple, and so that made sense for the 8 to be black like an 8 ball.

I wanted to use military style insignias and "collar devices" to signify rank. The men's collars have spades made of felt and outlined in glitter. The shoulders all have rank patches, including mine, that say the rank of the card. Mine said "Q", naturally. You can look for these details in the pictures.


 Eva did her harlequin mask in makeup. The hats and crowns were a big part of the costumes.
Guy and Reid had tophats already, so I just made hat bands for them, and the large cutout spades from glitter scrapbook paper backed in white paper to make them pop.
 Below you can see the Kitty's cat o'nine tail, which Eva and James made from pieces of black suede that I had and part of a dowel rod. James put in a huge effort on this!!!

 Kitty has rhinestone claws...
 Grace (ten) is getting her shoulder insignia painted on by Guy, since she didn't have sleeves. He had to meet us there, so he had a stencil precut to do this with.
 Grace's vest is made from McCall's 5682. All of these vests are lined, including the men's vests, and they all have coordinating lining, even though it rarely shows...that's just how I roll!

Her petticoat is two crinolines layered with the shorter, sequin on on top of a longer full one. The one underneath is the Leg Avenue 15" black crinoline.  I made our choker necklaces from things you can get in the scrapbook department at Michael's crafts. You can see that her hat has the number 10 cut from glitter paper, and the same spade as the men's hats. The crowns are custom made and I will discuss that later as well. You can see my shoulder "Q" in this picture. The white hat is a Leg Avenue top hat, and my Queen dress is also a Leg Avenue costume for french maid...I got in on Amazon, the only place I have ever seen this particular dress.

King of Spades and Medieval Batman

I bought both my sons the purple and black checkered Vans shoes for their costumes.  Guy made his staff...Jack has to have the staff!! He hand painted the design on a long dowel, and hand carved the spade on top.








With my friend Rob, who I only ever get to see at DragonCon!
I think you can get a lot of ideas from these pictures, about all of the details I put into the costumes that really brought it together.

Ok, the sleeve insets. The shirts were just regular dress shirts. Iron the sleeves flat. Mark two inches down from the shoulder seam and two inches up from the cuff. Measure that. Now take a piece of inset fabric you choose , approximately one foot wide and the length you just measured. Mike's jacquard metallic insets were less wide because the fabric was so stiff.

Pleat the inset fabric longways in about 3/4" wise pleats. Adjust to suit yourself. Stitch the top and bottom across to secure the pleats. Make sure the outer two folds of the pleats are not inverted, meaning the right side of the fabric is out. Now use a seam ripper to slit the sleeve in the center from top to bottom between the marks you made. Turn the shirt inside out. Insert the inset pleated piece. Now it's time to sew it in.

I have to tell you, this doesn't make a perfectly neat insert. At the top and bottom, it sticks out a wee bit.I have been sewing a long time, so I was able to finesse it pretty well. Stitch the top first, then proceed around. Don't try to do top and bottom, then the sides. That doesn't work. If you have to do a few stitches in tight areas, you can do that by hand or use hot glue. Once you turn it back right side out, it really looks fabulous.

The cuffs looked dull, so they got glitter paint treatments of spades, as well.

The crowns were custom made by the incredible Guy Martin!!  He has built his own forge, where he bent the sheet steel to make the head rings. He cut the spades from the same sheet steel and riveted them in lace with copper rivets. Mike's spades are all large sizes, where mine is large sized in the front only. Guy painted the head rings black, and added shadow detail in purple paint with a spade design. The bridge in the back that holds the ring together is a double sided spade cut from steel. Originally they didn't have the fur on the bottom, but they are on the heavy side and needed some padding. I attached the fur on the inside with something like gorilla glue that James gave me. Guy is pretty much a genius fabricator. I tell him what I want..we have a meeting to get measurements and work out the design elements... then what he gives me is better than I ever expected!!   Though you probably don't have your own metal work genius, you could make crowns out of other materials. Just don't ruin all your effort with some crappy pre-made crown. the King and Queen have to look the part!   

As always, let me know if you have questions you need answered. Have fun!

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