Thursday, June 24, 2010

Timmy, *I* am your seamstress!

*Warning: long post!*

Several weeks ago, ThinkGeek Tweeted a request to crafters; their mascot, Timmy, would be going to ComicCon in San Diego this summer, and would need costumes. I immediately submitted my information and volunteered to make a Jedi robe, which was one of their requests. They even sent me a "Timmy Clone" to help with the fittings.

I knew I wanted to make something else, in addition to the Jedi robe, but it took me a while to think of it. And then I decided: Kaylee's "Shindig" dress!
That was perfect. The dress is so over-the-top anyway, easy to recognize by many Con-goers, did not look too hard to make, and since Timmy's a boy, it would be unexpected.

First I did a lot of research on the Interweb, on how these should actually look, and any helpful hints on how to make them. There are lots of tutorials out there for both costumes. They're for human-sized costumes, but I figured they'd be easy to adapt. One thing that puzzled me was that many of the tutorials for Kaylee's dress called for the middle rows of skirt-ruffles to be peach. I didn't think that was right. I thought they were a light pink, and I suspected that since the ballroom was golden, that the color just got skewed in the screencaps. I Tweeted the dress' designer/creator, Shawna Trpcic, asking her about the colors. She was kind enough to answer me, and confirmed that it was, indeed, pink. Then I drew my plans up (literally), made a shopping list, and went to the fabric store. Next, it was down to (monkey) business. I started with the Jedi costume, since that's the one I had actually committed to. First came monkey-pants. (See how they mock you?)

Then came the tunic. I got a lot of help from my boy, who gave expert advice on how it should look.

Next came the robe. The Boy started getting annoyed with my constant questions, but he hung in there. It went along rather smoothly, except I decided that it needed a hook-and-eye to keep the front closed. And somehow I had NO hook-and-eyes in my entire craft stash. I refused to run out to the store just for that one item, and instead stole one off of one of my bras.

Then it was finally completed:

Last, but not least, was the lightsaber. From the beginning, I had in mind a lightsaber-pen that my boy had gotten in a cereal box years ago. I looked on Ebay, and sure enough, there were some available, still new, in the packaging. The Boy helped me decide which color to get, and I ordered it. When I received it, I was disappointed to find that, even though it WAS still in the unopened packaging, the light didn't work. Because even though it was never-used, it was still physically about 8 years old, and the battery was just dead. There was no way to open the unit up to replace the battery, or I would have done it. The other obstacle was that this was a pen, and you could see the pen through the 'blade'. That had to go. But it wasn't made to take apart, so it took me about an hour, with tweezers and a drill, to remove the pen parts. Then I super-glued the blade back onto the hilt. Next, I had to decide how I was going to get Timmy to hold onto the lightsaber. What I did was fashion a fabric covered elastic to go around his wrist, and attached that to the hilt with small but strong cable ties. I first colored the cable ties with a silver Sharpie (the same one that Alan Tudyk signed my hat with...but I digress) so it blended in nicely.
Here's the finished costume, which I am rather pleased with:


Next I started on Kaylee's dress. I was even more excited about this than the Jedi robe. My original plan, in my head, just called for buying lace in the three colors I needed, and layering them to an underskirt, easy-peasy. This plan was quickly crushed when I realized there were NO suitable laces at the fabric store. Instead, I bought sheer fabrics in white, light pink, and dark pink, cut them into strips, folded them lengthwise, sewed along the cut edge, pulled a thread to gather that, then sewed over it to secure the gathers. (I thought I had a picture of this, but clearly, I do not.) Then I sewed these ruffles to the underskirt, from the bottom up.

Next came the bodice. I had to alter my plans for this, too, at the fabric store, when I found that they didn't have any appropriate fabrics. I needed a white fabric and a dark pink fabric, both with gold flowers. And they had NOTHING. Instead, I found a plain fabrics that happened to co-ordinate with the sheer fabrics, and bought gold fabric paint. I had to order a floral print stamp on Ebay, but it was worth it, as it worked out very well.

Once I had the fabric sussed out, it was time to make the bodice. The front is ruched, and that ruching kicked my ass for three days. Because I was working on such a small scale, the gathers just would not fall right. Finally, I sewed row after row of tiny pleats of the bodice fabric onto a plain, backing fabric. The rest went very quickly once that was finally tackled.
Next were the sleeves. I knew how to make gathered sleeves, so that part was easy enough. Of course there were no tassles available in the size or colors I needed, so I made my own with pink and gold embroidery floss.
Here is the finished sleeve. I found it impossible to make it to the correct scale because, well, Timmy is a stuffed monkey. But I think it came out well enough.

Then I sewed the skirt to the bodice, finished the back seams, and sewed in snaps to close it. I added a hair bow (sewn to a safety pin), and it was DONE.

I was very excited with how it came out. By now, The Boy was thoroughly sick of the whole mess, and he objected to poor Timmy being dressed as a girl, anyway. I literally couldn't wait to send them off to Think Geek, and Tweeted pictures to them as soon as I finished the dress.
They responded enthusiastically.
Then they retweeted, and it's received positive comments and further retweets. This all made this Geek-Girl extremely happy.

Today, they received them, and Tweeted me about it:
I am SO PLEASED that they like them so much. This was such a fun project to do, and I'm excited that they're excited.

As a bonus, I learned that both Jewel Staite (who wore the 'real' dress) and Shawna Trpcic (who designed/made it) will also be at ComicCon. I would be so thrilled if ThinkGeek managed to get a picture of Timmy-in-the-dress with Jewel and/or Shawna. That would be freaking awesome.

ThinkGeek updated their Flickr account with everyone's costume contributions. There are several pictures of mine. This one is freaking awesome, with a side of awesomesauce:


Jenn said...


I have shivers. Arm hair is standing up at the awesomeness of this!!!

Annika said...

Holy mackerel. I don't think I can even call myself a sewist anymore. I bow down before your superior craftiness.

CosmicAvatar said...

I squeeed a bit myself. BRILLIANT.

DropEdge said...

HOW DID I MISS THIS? I saw the Tweets about the robe, but I COMPLETELY MISSED the Kaylee dress. That's absolutely amazing.