Swords and sorcery!

Dragonscale belly dance skirt/bra project notes and tutorial…ish.

Two posts in a week? When it rains, it pours. And guess what? It’s another super wordy post! I love seeing myself type, I guess. As always, for the straight tutorial, skip down until you start seeing bold.

I made a swords-and-sorcery-inspired costume. For some reason, I enjoy the late ’70s and ’80s fantasy comic-book/video game aesthetic. It’s just so gloriously over the top. It’s not gritty or dark. It’s colorful and shamelessly self-indulgent. I wanted a costume for a party that would be utterly ridiculous, colorful and silly. Like something out of Elf, maybe, or early Thor comics. Or even Everquest, come to think of it.

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Easy pants variation

I’m all over the place, aren’t I. I made some pants this week that I really enjoy, and I’d like to share how, since it’s really easy.


Draft a simple pair of knee-length elastic-or-drawstring-waist pants with side seams, adding about an inch to each side seam compared to what you’d normally wear. Or, use your favorite pattern, and add an inch or two extra at the side seams. (You could even do this with a non-elastic waist band with a fly, if you want. Just make sure there’s a waistband, or it’ll look really strange.)

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This shot doesn't have the underskirt in it... I'll fix it later, but the underskirt picture turned out really badly.

A Wind Waker Halloween Costume Journal (Princess Zelda): Dress

Man, long absences all over the place. Well, my excuse this time is that I got married (I know I still need to do more posts about that…) and went to Burning Man and thought that we were moving, but we haven’t yet. Which means another Halloween with my friends! Yay. It’s not that long until Halloween, at least in the complicated costume-making realm, but a friend of mine said she was going to be pajama Link from Wind Waker. I jokingly said I’d be Zelda, when another friend piped up that she wanted to be Tingle. Yep. Tingle. Then we got a Ganon, and were good to go.

By the way, this is a long post. If you just want to look at the pictures… I try to caption them so they get the info across and you don’t have to slog through my incredibly wordy prose. So read on, skim on, however you choose to experience it.

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Dragon Hoodie

I made this. No, there’s not really a tutorial, sorry, just wanted to share. Mostly I made a basic hoodie with extended, widened arm-gloves. Oh, and little ‘spikes’ inserted into the hood and arm seams. The rest of the ‘spikes’ are small triangles of fabric sewn together, stuffed, and attached by hand. The tail is quilted, and the scales are leather scraps glued and stitched down for extra security. That took freaking forever.

Obviously, my inspiration was Calgary Cosplay’s dragon hoodie. Well, mostly just the arms and scales. The head is constructed much differently because I wanted a different look. Also there’s no front zipper, mostly because I didn’t want to buy one.

I wanted to make my own so that it would fit me better than the Calgary ones, seeing as I have my own measurements. Also, it was a whole lot of fun to puzzle out and make. I really like the over-sized forearms!

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Beaded costume/bellydance belt tutorial

Confession: This wasn’t meant to be a tutorial at first. Originally, the belt was supposed to be over a sheer paneled floaty skirt; the idea was that I’d make it, photograph it, and maybe try and sell it if it turned out especially amazing. But I just started hating that idea, until I decided to leave it as a belt. Then it just seemed a little too simple to keep to myself; it’s time consuming, but by no means a work of artistic genius. Finally, I kept changing my concept as I worked, which led to some severe uneven-ness in the beading, and some crazy wonky grommets.

So instead, how’s about a tutorial so you can make your own? I might still offer a 2.0 version in an Etsy shop or something in the future, since they are super time consuming for such a small accessory, but it’s nice to share how to make things.

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Simple body chain with cape tutorial schematic/notes

Pretty self-explanatory. Do you like body chains? With our without capes? Wanna see how I did mine?

Now, normally I’m not a fan of any sort of metal in my festival costumes, because I tend to not like to wear a lot of clothing, and skimpy armor is a BIG anti-feminist pet peeve of mine. But body chains don’t look like armor to me. I mean really, is anyone going to mistake this thing for protective shoulder gear? No.

I fully expect you to extrapolate your own from this, since it’s only a few notes about construction and a tiny schematic showing which chains are connected where. But I think and hope it’ll be helpful for someone who has chain but isn’t quite sure how to puzzle out the shapes in their head.

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Summer of the DiY Wedding: Make Sure to Muslin Your Gown (Obviously)

Not that much to say this week except that I’m more than halfway through my dress. It’s self-drafted, which makes muslining all the more important. I decided to keep my gown simple, elegant, and in a style that doesn’t scream “wedding dress.” This helped me keep the fabric costs to $70 (for silk charmeuse and chiffon), and I’ll be able to wear it again, especially if I dye it. (Though it’s in a style that works well for a white evening gown, in my opinion.)

If your heart isn’t set on a big, poofy skirt and corset, I suggest you do the same — it’s much cheaper and easier. Though easier didn’t figure into my calculations, I’m glad I went that route; I could definitely make a dramatic WOW-factor gown with a lace-encrusted bodice and miles of skirt, but not very well, considering we started planning pretty recently AND I’ve never made a self-supporting bodice or worked with boning (actually, silk, either) before. I’d rather have something beautiful and made/fit to the best of my abilities. Ultimately, I’d like to make $70 worth of fabric look like a $500 dress, not $500 worth of fabric look like a $250 dress. We’ll see how that goes.

One disclaimer: I committed a major no-no by buying just enough fabric to make my dress, sight unseen, over THE INTERNET. I honestly should have bought $100 of fabric, just in case, or at least ordered swatches so I was sure of the color and texture! I have never worked with chiffon or charmeuse before, so I didn’t even know how it would handle, though I could guess from experience with other fabric. I lucked out majorly. It was exactly the ivory-white I wanted, and handles just like I thought it would, only better. (Of course, I forgot about my platinum hair when ordering… my dress and hair are going to pretty much match. Haven’t decided how I feel about this. Is it some kind of ultra faux pax, matching your hair to your gown?)

Point is, spend the money to get enough fabric. Especially if you haven’t made a zillion dresses for yourself. I know I can make a maxi dress out of one yard of fabric. And I still waited for over a week to cut in to my fabric, because I was so afraid.

For the muslin, I just cut out shapes that were similar to what I knew I wanted, pinned them on my dress form to fit the way I wanted, basted the pieces together along those lines, made extra sure it fit with seams and added overlays of a sheer poly curtain to approximate chiffon (not well, mind you, but it’s what I had). Then, I took a pencil and colored over all the seams before trimming the excess fabric away from the seam lines, taking the whole thing apart, and using it as a pattern.

This worked really well for me because it’s a simple dress without need for a zipper or anything. Which is good, because that was one of the few things I really, really wanted. Smooth fit that flows like water, without a zipper, even an invisible zip if possible, ruining the lines. Of course, this meant I had to remove the dress from the form early (and with much grunting), since the dress that fits me like a glove is too small for the stiff shoulders of the dress form. I still wanted to sew the seams while they were hanging, however, (I don’t trust myself to machine-sew this baby!), so I hung the dress from a hanger with clothes pins at the bodice, making sure it’s well supported, and am sewing that way. I don’t have a serger, so I’m French-seaming everything, which is taking forever.


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Muslin pic. Attractive, no? And well worth it, obviously, to check the fit and practice a little of the draping.

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Summer of the DIY wedding: Making a veil

All the brouhaha and traditional spending sprees around weddings really bother me. Weddings should be a celebration of love and life, not stressful enforced consumerism. This is part of a series detailing my DiY wedding, put together with a maximum budget of $3,000.

Veils are really expensive. Well, you can get a really cheap, fingertip-length piece of tulle with some beads glued on it. But if you want something nice, it costs a lot of money. Which it should, in the case of nice, handmade, high-quality veils! Those take a TON of time and effort. Of course, then there’s the ridiculously overpriced crap that people sell, banking on a bride’s liberal spending because it’s her wedding. Either way, you’re in for a big cash ding if you want something fancy without doing it yourself.

I decided on a long veil with a crown and scattered crystals, with lace trim at the bottom but not the sides. I don’t really like huge, poofy, dramatic wedding dresses (they’re gorgeous, just not on me), so I’m relying on the veil for the drama. Plus, in my heart of hearts, I’m still a little enamored with elves and fantasy creatures. I don’t want to do a costume or a theme wedding, but a simple wire-and-crystal circlet nods to my love of fantasy while not being silly about it. I hope.

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Summer of the DiY wedding: Colors are important.

All the brouhaha and traditional spending sprees around weddings really bother me. Weddings should be a celebration of love and life, not stressful enforced consumerism. This is part of a series detailing my DiY wedding, put together with a maximum budget of $3,000.

Planning a wedding is a lot of work! Even if you’re opting for a laidback celebration. So, where does one start?

Everyone I talked to about the wedding had the same question: What are you colors?

…What? Colors?


*Cue deer in headlights frantic panic*


Seriously, if you’re planning a wedding, pick your colors right away. It makes literally everything else so much easier, since you have a framework. I did some Googling and found the perfect palette. Seriously, that’s what the site is called. theperfectpalette.com. There are a plethora of choices. It’s a gorgeous and intimidating website for a wedding-noob like me. Eventually I found an article detailing 10 combinations and decided to start there because I was overwhelmed by all the things. We picked number nine, sage and orange, because those are sort of our colors in daily life anyway, my sister looks fantastic in red, and it’s an outdoor wedding in the summer, so anything too man-made- or cold-looking will clash.

From there it was pretty easy. We opted for online invitations for environmental reasons. And happened to save a few bucks, which was nice, but it was really about the environment. So often this stuff ends up in the recycling bin right away, or worse, the trash. So why create more stuff?

We weren’t too concerned about having individualized invitations, so I just plugged our information into this template (the internet is so full of generous and talented people!), added a simple orange border, and we were good to go.

I’ll be making personalized keepsake-style invitations for a few people, however. So I’m not totally cheating on the invites! All the grandparents and parents will get one. Maybe a couple of others. I haven’t quite decided. Yeah… leaving stuff until the last minute is how I roll, apparently.



Green eggs and… garlic.

Looking to get some more greens in your diet? Well, you should be. They’re super good for you, and anywhere you can sneak some in, you should do that. Plus, light cooking in olive oil can kick up the health factor by a few notches. (Nutrition. It’s weirdly interconnected.)

This is an awesome breakfast full of protein, healthy fats, and green goodness. Try it, Sam I Am!


  • 4 Organic Valley eggs*
  • 4-6 cups spinach, kale, chard, or greens of choice. (Iceberg lettuce not recommended, that stuff doesn’t heat well.) I used a salad mix and half a bunch of cilantro.
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 green onions
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Organic Valley mozzarella cheese* (optional)
  • Lemon juice (optional, but awesome)


Heat up your broiler. While it’s heating, put some olive oil in a skillet. Toss the garlic in there, and chop up a bunch of green onions. When your nose starts picking up that heavenly garlic-and-olive-oil fragrance, add the green onions. Then, add the greens. Toss as many of them in there as you can fit in the skillet. They’ll shrink down a fair amount. Stir the greens and the garlic and onions together.

Quickly (the greens cook pretty fast) crack 4 eggs into the skillet on top of the greens, and let them sit for a minute or so, until they start setting and turning white. In the meantime, season with salt and pepper, and grate some cheese if desired.

Move the whole skillet to the broiler and cook until your eggs are how you like them. For me, that takes ~2 minutes, but I like them fairly gooey.

Carefully split between two plates, and splash just a little bit of lemon juice over everything.

Serve with crusty toast and a little bit of balsamic vinegar if desired.

*Why am I specifying egg and cheese brand? Because independent, third-party research has shown that Organic Valley is really nice to its cows. And they have a really good (though not perfect, sadly…) track record for their chickens. Though they are a common “organic” brand, which may lead some to believe they’re just hopping on the organic bandwagon, they’re actually a collective of small farmers. Weird, huh? So many of these companies pitch “humane,” “cage-free,” “organic,” blah blah blah, when you’re actually paying them to lie to you. Organic Valley is decently affordable and delivers on their promises.