Monday, June 20, 2011

Cosplay Tutorial: Dr Girlfriend

Before we go any further, be warned that this is not a costume for the faint of heart. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve made to date and is, quite frankly, a feat of engineering. If you’re dead set on being Dr. Girlfriend but don’t think you’re up to the challenge, there’s a simpler take on the costume here (no tutorial), and there are a few for sale. I’m not linking to those because we here at Frenemy Cosplay don’t believe in buying pre-made costumes. If you didn’t bleed on it, you don’t deserve to wear it.

Are you scared, yet? Good. Let’s go.

Whatever design you use, the look you’re going for is classic Jackie O. with a super villain twist. This breaks down to a few basic elements: pink dress, pillbox hat, and white gloves and boots.

Pink Dress
Things you’ll need:
- 3-4 yards of pink fabric. Stretchy is good, but not necessary
- One (1) 20” zipper
- buttons

I went for more or less screen accurate, with the dress. I’m not gonna lie, it was a pain in the ass, but I got decent results.

I used Simplicity pattern 5098, which I believe is now out of print, as a base. Patterns can be a pain to deal with, but, frankly, I can’t work without them. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m assuming a basic understanding of how to use a pattern. If you don’t know how to use a sewing pattern.... Well, we might have to do a post for that.

This is not that post.

This pattern has a single, big piece for the shirt front, and it tells you to cut one. I cut two, one that follows the diagonal seam across the front and the other stops at what will be the center of the front of the dress. You can see the basic shape of these pieces in this diagram.

To turn the shirt pattern into pieces for a dress, measure the length from your underarm to wherever on your leg you want it to hit, allowing two to three inches for the hem (and the inevitable screw-ups). Be sure to mark your cutting line very carefully, so you don’t wind up with a dress that’s too long on one side.

The bigger of the two front panels will be your top panel. Fold over the diagonal and center (line A, in the diagram) edges and stitch them like you would a hem. Lay this panel flat over the other front panel, using the neckline to make sure they’re centered, and sew line A flat to the smaller panel. Leave the diagonal line open, because, trust me, you’re going to want an open neckline on this dress.

But, shadowen! I hear you say, Dr. Girlfriend’s dress has buttons up the front! Yes, my fellow Venturoos, yes it does. And do you know why the good doctor is able to wear a skin-tight dress with, presumably, working buttons up the length of it? Because she’s a cartoon. In real life, buttons gap, especially on tight or fitted clothes. If you are, in fact, a cartoon, you may disregard this tutorial and make a dress with working buttons. If not, let’s keep going.

Make the back of the dress as the pattern directs, except with the extra length, obviously. Once you have your back and front ready to go, attach the seams normally on one side. The zipper goes on the other side. Now, this was my first time putting in a zipper, and I’m not even going to tell you how I did it because I did it wrong. Regardless, I positioned the zipper so that it zips down the side of the dress toward the hem.
The fact is, unless you’re a tiny slip of a thing, you’re going to need some kind of fastener to get into this dress.

For this costume, I cut the pattern a size smaller than I normally wear (I’m a size 16 US; I cut it to a 14), and the dress looks like it’s been shrink-wrapped on. This works fine for the aesthetic, but it necessitates the use of a body shaper, so judge accordingly.

Once you’ve got this done, you’re 75% finished with the entire costume. No, really. That was the bulk of the work, right there. Don’t get too excited, though. There’s still plenty to do.

Cut the piece for the collar a little longer and wider than the pattern directs, but otherwise make the collar how it tells you. Same for the sleeves. Measure from your shoulder to past your elbow and cut your fabric pieces accordingly. Once again, mark your cut lines. You may live to regret it, if you don’t.

For the buttons, I used small, matte black pearl buttons, but you can use whatever you have available or think looks best. Measure increments down the top seam on line A and mark them with a fabric pen or straight pin. This is where your buttons will go, so you can do as few or as many as you choose. The button on the collar is a working button, which is a pain, but necessary. It should fall just left of center on your throat.

Finally, I cut away the excess fabric from the smaller front panel, which isn’t necessary, but gives a slightly cleaner look with the fabric I used. If you do this, be careful not to cut too close to the diagonal (see line C in the diagram), or you’ll wind up with a gaping hole. I learned this the hard way.

If you’ve made it this far, then congratulations! You’ve made the really difficult and really iconic part of your costume!

Now for all the other parts.

Pillbox Hat
Things you’ll need:
- an empty oatmeal can, or similar cardboard container
- 1 sq. foot-ish of excess fabric from the dress
- hot glue gun
- several large paper clips
- embroidery floss
- a needle with a large eye

This hat? Is something I will never make again. For serious.

That being said, it was cheap to make and didn’t take very long. I cut a can of oatmeal about two inches from the bottom to use as a base form. then I cut a circle of fabric about a centimeter wider than the base of the can. Both of these estimations turned out to be a little much, so I would recommend cutting the can about an inch or and inch and a half from the bottom and cutting the circle a little smaller. Cut a strip of fabric about an inch wider than the height of your cylinder and an inch longer than the circumfrence of the circle. Attach the strip of fabric to the circle of fabric so that it creates, more or less, a cylinder with an open seam.

At this point, you’ll want to see how your fabric fits around the base and adjust accordingly, as well as attaching the open edges of the strip. Once you’re moderately satisfied with the fit of the fabric, use a hot glue gun to fix the loose edges to the inside of the base. Since you want the fabric to fit pretty tight, you’ll need something to keep it in firmly in place while the glue dries. Large paper clips will work fine. Don’t worry about gluing down the entire edge, right now. Just fix enough points on the inside so that the fabric will stay in place.

I’d like to take this opportunity, if I may, to make some observations about hot glue guns. Specifically that there is evidence to suggest their secondary purpose may very well be to make smart people feel stupid. These things are fairly simple tools, but do not underestimate the danger they present, else you will find yourself with minor burns and feeling dumb as fuck.

Hot glue guns, friends. They’re no laughing matter.

Once the first round of glue has dried completely, go back with the glue gun and fix the remaining fabric to the inside of the can. Then set it aside and go do something else for a little while.

Is it dry, yet? Okay, good.

Now that the hat itself is made, your primary concern is getting it to stay on your head. You can try using an elastic band or attaching hair combs, but I stitched four small loops of embroidery floss on the inside edge so that I could affix the hat with bobby pins. At least, that was the plan. In the picture, the hat is held on with small hair clips, which is a temporary solution, at best.

What I ultimately did was gather up a small section of hair where I wanted the hat to go, coiled it up with bobby pins, and used a hat pin (read: very long needle) to secure the hat to my hair. It took some trial and error, and I won’t be doing any rigorous dancing in this costume, which would really be a very bad idea, anyway. Still, it holds well enough to make it through the day.

White Gloves and Boots
Things you’ll need:

For the shoes, you have two options: buy boots or make boot tops. I chose to buy boots - mostly because I... have a thing for boots - but there are plenty of tutorials on making boot covers.
Boot covers with zippers
Non-stretchy and stretchy fabrics
Pull-over boot covers

If you choose to go this route, take a good look at the tutorials before you get started. Boot covers are deceptively simple and surprisingly difficult to make. It’s definitely the cheaper option, just know what you’re getting into.

If you choose to buy boots, the hardest part will be finding some that you’re willing to wear and that fit in your price range. As those of us with shoe obsessions know, good boots are hella expensive. If you want to go for screen accuracy -and can pull it off - look for white, stretch Go Go boots. Your best bet for these will probably be costume shops or online fetish clothing stores.

Even if you’re not going for screen accurate, white boots can be difficult to find in stores since, y’know, it’s not 1964. Being a lover of boots, short on cash, and having slightly chubby legs, I decided to fore-go the stretch boots for some that will look good on me and that I can wear when I’m not at con. I found these on Ebay for about $35, including shipping. and also have some good options.

The other thing to consider with the boots, and with all costume shoes, is the heel. If you’re buying boots, be sure to look at the height of the heel before you click “add to cart”. You don’t want to wind up mincing around on five-inch stilettos if you’re used to wearing sneakers everyday. I wear heels regularly, so the four-inch ones I got won’t be too much trouble, but I’ll definitely be putting a cushion in them before the con.

As for the gloves.... Don’t even try. Just buy the damn gloves. Seriously. You want wrist-length or three-quarter white gloves, and you can get them at Claire’s and places like that for not much money. Even if you hand-make the rest of this costume, buy the gloves.

If, however, you are crazy or a purist, there is a tutorial for making lycra gloves here.

Hair and Make-up
My hair is currently a short, black bob, anyway, so it’s more-or-less the right style. I just divided my hair into sections and used a curling iron to add some height and volume, curling the ends of the bottom layer out to give it that kick. I tried the look later with curlers, and it worked a little better. I’ll probably use hairspray or spray gell on the day of the con to help it keep the curl. If your hair is just nowhere near the right color or style, and you’re not willing to make drastic alterations, a wig might be the way to go. At some point in the future, we’ll be doing a post on choosing and wearing wigs, so keep an eye out.

As far as make-up, the important part is really the eyes. You want a classic cat eye shape with a blue eyeshadow. I used Maybelline’s “Blue Freeze” creme eyeshadow over e.l.f.’s lid primer and Palladio’s black Eye Ink pen for the liner. The lipstick is M-A-C’s “Pink Poodle” lip glass (obviously) over Rimmel’s “East End Snob” creme lip liner.

Other Accessories
The good doctor wears gold button earrings, which went out of style about the same time as pillbox hats. I got a pair of plastic button earrings for 99 cents at Goodwill, roughed them up with a metal nail file, and spray painted them gold. Sandpaper probably would have worked better, but I wasn’t about to go buy a pack of sandpaper for one tiny project. I just happened to have a can of gold spray paint left over from another project, like you do.

I’m planning to use the leftover fabric to make a purse, because, as Sabine pointed out, I need a place to put my shit. That’s going to be its own special production, though, and will get its own post.

Production time: About 2 months total, with breaks.
Final cost: aprx. $50, all included

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