Wordnerd T-shirts = Big Geek Fun

Last fall, while I was on the Tor Books Fall Flights of Fantasy tour, I brought along WordNerd t-shirts for my fellow authors Ilana C. Myer and Seth Dickenson (Geeks bearing gifts, get it?) and we got into all sorts of authorshaming shenanigans.

Authorshaming, on tour. GeekMom Fran, at your service. Photo courtesy of Fran Wilde

The velcro-emblazoned t-shirts with the interchangeable letters just kind of lend themselves to shenanigans, what can I say?

I’m so happy that the inventor of these shirts, the word-nerdy Gabrielle Miller and her family agreed to answer a bunch of questions about the Wordnerd’s shirts – which include children’s and adult sizes, as well as different color letter packs. Gabrielle’s also generously offered a free kid’s shirt and letter pack to GeekMom readers at the end – so stick around! (Get it? Stick around?!! hahaha.)

GeekMom: Where did you get the idea for WORDNERD APPAREL?

Gabrielle Miller: T-shirts on the market are hilarious, but to buy them all would be expensive.  I kept thinking that someone is going to make them–but then no one did.  Now we are.  We decided to use hook and loop to bring the best to the world of customizable apparel.  We started with our own shirts and got so much positive feedback we researched and decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge.  It’s been madness ever since!  Pure wordy nerdy madness. Continue reading Wordnerd T-shirts = Big Geek Fun

A Cosplay Primer for Parents

I tend to be a pretty involved parent when it comes to current trends, shows, music, and fads. So when my 9 year-old son came to me three years ago and asked to make a “Half-Life Costume”, I was surprised I had no idea what that was or how to do it.

A bit of research on the internet had me spiraling down the rabbit hole, into an entirely new world: The world of cosplay. Continue reading A Cosplay Primer for Parents

Forget Pepe. #ifoundmurky at BlizzCon 2015

Throughout October, leading up to BlizzCon 2015, one hashtag ruled them all as far as Blizzard games were concerned. The tag #ifoundpepe took off as players tweeted images of their characters with the beloved bird on their head.

When the Blizzard Gear store released a plush Pepe, the frenzy around him reached a fevered pace. But while there were dozens of Pepes to be seen throughout BlizzCon, another character also seemed to have caught the eye of crafters throughout the fandom. So I would like to propose a new hashtag, #ifoundmurky.

Murky is a murloc, a small creature that most World of Warcraft players would recognize as one of the many mobs that characters plow through in their quest for experience and gear. Heroes of the Storm players might recognize him as a niche character that shocks everyone when a player selects him.

No one really gives the poor creature much of a thought, outside of being a humorous addition to any game. But he has found love among a small group of crafters and I caught up with a few of them at BlizzCon. Continue reading Forget Pepe. #ifoundmurky at BlizzCon 2015

10 Halloween Costumes to Hit You in the Feels

We are one week out from Halloween, and if you’re still thinking about costumes then you need to strategize. This article really deserves a sub-heading: Costumes to Guarantee Extra Candy From Crying Geeks (On a Budget and Short Notice). Because we all know that’s the primary goal, right?

If you truly want to make the most of your Geek Parent status, you need to think beyond the standard costume. We’re talking fine detail. We’re talking characterization. We’re talking props. Trust me—the props bring the feels, like Moffat to a flame.

Each of the following suggestions stays true to the nature of Halloween—Everybody’s dead, Dave (well, kind of). There may be spoilers ahead, although all of these characters are at least 12 months old—you have been warned.

  1. Carl (from UP)

You’ve seen the cosplays of Old Man Carl, carrying balloons and his zimmer frame. Amateurs. Do the old man costume—suspenders; bow tie; talcum powder in the hair; glasses. And add a photo frame or scrapbook with Ellie’s picture poking out of the top. Whenever anyone looks at the costume, just glance down at the picture and sniff.

  1. Hiro (from Big Hero 6)

Now, the obvious choice would be the brother, Tadashi—but that might be a little obtuse. Instead, go for a simple version of Hiro (cargo pants, red t-shirt, blue cardigan) with props: A slightly deflated Baymax balloon. We all know he survives at the very end, but after the tearjerker with Tadashi… I just don’t think the candy-rich geeks could handle the feels from Baymax’s sacrifice *sniff*.

Photo by Evil Genius Mum
Photo by Evil Genius Mum

Continue reading 10 Halloween Costumes to Hit You in the Feels

Make an Easy Shonen Knife Costume!

It’s a cool feeling when your own children embrace some of your memories, and make them their own. My six-year-old has discovered the pop-punk trio Shonen Knife.

Whether it’s their catchy beats, colorful homemade-looking videos, or their Ramones-meets-Hello Kitty look, they are her band, and she wants to dress like them. Specifically, she wants the two-tone heart dresses they wore in their sugar high of a video, Riding on the Rocket.

Per her request, I created a way turn two cheap t-shirts into one retro and colorful Shonen Knife-inspired costume that can be worn year round.

What you need:

  • Two inexpensive t-shirts (one white, one another bright color)
  • Fabric adhesive tape
  • Black cloth paint
  • One or two sheets of bright colored craft foam

    Basic materials for the Shonen Knife dress. Two tees will soon become one. Image: Lisa Kay Tate.

Continue reading Make an Easy Shonen Knife Costume!

6 Questions With Darling Army’s Cosplay Clothing Wiz

The Darling Tennant Suiting Cosplay Jumper Pinfore (left) and the Galaxy Police Box Cosplay Kimono Dress (right) are two of Darling Army’s top sellers. All photos courtesy of Darling Army/Amanda Marin.

A few weeks back, we featured “11 Awesomely Geeky Aprons” on GeekMom. People love aprons because they provide a nice excuse to squeeze a little cosplay in everyday—or at all, if you like to keep your cosplay behind closed doors.

However, as the owner of the online shop Darling Army, cosplay artist Amanda Marin makes designs that you’d be proud to wear almost anywhere. Heck, I’d wear this Pokeball skirt or even this Baymax pinafore to the grocery store, if I could.

Amanda doesn’t just create aprons, but she also does dresses, skirts, bibs, tights, and more. She aims to add one new design to her site every week, but she’s also pretty open to suggestions. She just isn’t always open to new orders. In fact, she typically only takes on 20 projects at a time, which can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to create. When she does take on new orders, she usually fills up within 4 to 5 minutes. (Mark your calendar; the next order window will be open on Sunday, September 13, 2015, at 7:00 a.m. PDT.)

Although she constantly has orders to fill, I got the chance to ask Amanda about her online shop, her inspirations, and some of her best-sellers.

GeekMom: Please describe your shop…

Amanda Marin: I focus on making cosplay alternatives for cute enthusiasts. In general, I take male characters or objects from shows and adapt their designs to be more flattering for a woman’s body. Instead of making full cosplay or dresses, I focus on adapting these designs into kimono dresses and pinafores which can easily be adjusted for multiple sizes and removed, which makes them ideal for long convention days. Have you ever tried to even take a simple eating break during a con in full cosplay? It’s a nightmare!

Photo: Amanda Marin.

GM: How long have you been doing this?

AM: I’ve been sewing my own cosplay for almost 15 years (since I was 12), but I’ve only been offering them to other people for the past four years. When I was working towards my teaching credential, I couldn’t hold a normal job because I was student teaching full-time during the day and going to classes at night. Since I didn’t have money for Christmas presents that year, I made my friends fandom pinafores with leftover fabric and they loved them! Eventually, I decided I’d have to start selling my designs online since it was my only job option. The rest is history!

GM: Would you say that most people order for cosplay or everyday wear? Or do you even know?

AM: It depends. Most people order the pinafores and kimono dresses for conventions and specific costume events. The skirts and capelets are more for everyday wear. My printed dresses and tights are new, but I think a lot of people are ordering those for everyday and casual convention days.

GM: Where do you get your ideas?

AM: From whatever I am playing, watching, or reading at the time. I have a sketch folder with over 400 designs that haven’t come to the store yet. Every time I join a new fandom or see a new character design, I usually add a couple sketches to that folder.

GM: What is your top seller?

AM: That’s actually pretty hard to say! For a while, my David Tennant Suiting Pinafores were on top, but the addition of kimono dresses has brought a whole new group to the store. For now, I’d say the Galaxy Tardis Kimono Dress has been the most popular design for the past two months. It changes based on the season. Convention season usually sees more anime and gaming-inspired designs, while Halloween leans towards Doctor Who.

GM: Is this your full-time job?

AM: Yes! So much for that teaching degree. I work 10 to 15 hours a day on orders, depending on the season. Halloween usually sees me working from morning ’til night.

For a peek at more of Amanda’s designs, check out the Darling Army website and the Darling Army Facebook page.

Cover Girl Announces Star Wars Edition Makeup

Image credit: CoverGirl via Allure Magazine

Last month, Lucasfilm announced an assortment of product partnerships for the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, including Verizon, Duracell, General Mills, Subway, HP, and FCA US. The seventh was CoverGirl cosmetics, and today we finally got to see what that will look like.

On the up side, Star Wars! Possibly on the down side, depending on your makeup preferences, the colors are very trendy and not necessarily daily wear, featuring shimmery purples, a gold, and a silver shade. But on the other hand, while a luminous lilac might not be office wear for your day job, they could be perfect for your next cosplay. The nail colors are a bit more wearable. (And I’m amused that one is named Nemesis, which seems more like a Star Trek color name.) There appear to be two mascaras, a Light Side and a Dark Side that are repackages of their Super Sizer mascara. They come in 10 different tubes, each with a Star Wars quote on it, from “Do. Or do not. There is no try,” to “You will meet your destiny.”

See all the pictures in the preview at Allure magazine and get it in stores September 4.

TOMS Shoes for Gamer Girls (No Painting Required!)

Red Gamer TOMS Shoes © TOMS
Red Gamer TOMS Shoes © TOMS

Most moms are familiar with the comfort and style of TOMS shoes. If you wanted to add your distinctive geek style to your comfy slip-ons, though, you usually had to take the time to paint them yourself.

But not anymore! Continue reading TOMS Shoes for Gamer Girls (No Painting Required!)

13 Awesomely Geeky Aprons

My Little Pony via MTCoffinz on Etsy.
My Little Pony Rainbow Dash apron via MTCoffinz on Etsy.

I love to cook, which means I have very few shirts that aren’t stained with sauces, oils, and other ingredients from my kitchen experiments.

A few years back, I went into this super-cute general store in New England and found a handmade apron for a mere $6. It was a no-brainer of a purchase, as well as one that has saved me from having to throw out half of my wardrobe.

Aprons are an essential kitchen tool, which come in a variety of patterns. While the $6 special is hard to come by, if you’re willing to pay a few extra bucks, there are a slew of them out there that allow you to extend your geeky fashion to the kitchen—or even the convention hall. Want to see what’s cooking in the world of geeky aprons? Check out the slideshow for 13 of my current favorites.

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Shopping List:

Being The Worst Cosplayer

Image By Rebecca Angel

What defines the worst cosplayer? Perhaps not remembering much about the character. Not even their real name. That was me!

Image By Luke Maxwell

This is She-Ra, Princess of Power. In case you aren’t familiar with her, you might know her brother He-Man. When I was little, I watched He-Man on a regular basis, and then She-Ra too. I have fond memories of visiting my Grandma with my sister. First we got a snack of two cookies (never enough!) and a cup of milk (eww, but I had to drink it.) Then we would sit in front of the TV and watch those two cartoons.

Skeletor was seriously bad when I was six. The speedos didn’t faze me. I wondered why that scene of He-Man throwing a rock was in every show. I loved, loved, loved She-Ra’s pegasus. And she was so cool.

Flash-forward to now, decades later. My sister decided she wanted to be She-Ra for Halloween last Fall. Our mother made a fantastic costume. Getting ready for ConnectiCon this year, I remembered the costume and decided I could cosplay! I haven’t cosplayed in several years, and with no work involved getting it ready, I figured I was all set.

Forgot about the research part. Research? Yeah. I watched the cartoon thirty years ago, so my memories are really, really vague. It didn’t occur to me that I should review some stuff before going to a geeky convention where people might actually be FANS of my character. Oops.

It started the morning I was getting my costume on at a house crowded with people all going to the Con.

ME: (getting the headpiece on over the wig)
CON-GOER 1: You look adorable!
CON-GOER 2: That’s fitting since her name is Adora.
ME: No. I’m She-Ra.
CON-GOER 2: Right… and her real name is Adora.
ME: It is?
CON-GOER 1: (laughs)
CON-GOER 2: (sighs)
ME: Didn’t He-Man have another name too?
CON-GOER 2: Yes.
ME: Kevin?
CON-GOER 2: Adam.
ME: Damn.

I filed that information away in case someone called me Adora instead of She-Ra. I was all set! Except I wasn’t. The first person to recognize me unfortunately knew way more about the show.

REAL FAN: She-Ra! Yes! Great costume!
ME: Thanks!
REAL FAN: Watch out for (insert random strange name here.)
ME:…um…yeah! Yeah, I will!
(Walking away with my son)
ME: Was it obvious I had no idea who she was talking about.
MY SON: Yes.
ME: Damn.

I ran into the fellow con-goer from the morning and pumped her for more info. I couldn’t remember most of what she told me (should have written it down) but I did remember the power sword words: “For the honor of Grayskull… I am She-Ra!” Good for me. By the end of the day, I didn’t run into anyone who quizzed me, but I did get some thumbs up from fans, and one photo taken. Yay!

Next time I cosplay I promise to know a little more about my character before parading around. I really am a fan of She-Ra, just a very old one.

The Perfect Jewelry for Cosplay and Everyday

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
Some favorite pieces. Photo: Martha Lewis.

Here at GeekMom, we frequently share DIY cosplay ideas. Those include everything from the costume itself to the best accessories. Maybe you’re looking for a steampunk gypsy hairpiece or tips for Big Hero 6-themed family cosplay. How about the perfect jewelry to go along with your costume? Last week, I had an opportunity to interview Martha Lewis, crafter and jewelry designer. She repurposes older, and sometimes incomplete or broken, pieces of jewelry into new works of art appropriate for cosplay and everyday.

GeekMom Maryann: Hi Martha Lewis! Welcome to GeekMom, and thanks taking the time to talk to us about your passion for jewelry making.

Martha Lewis: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my jewelry.

GMM: When did your interest in jewelry making start?

ML: After 33 years working for the Henrico County Police and Sheriff Departments in Virginia, I retired on January 1, 2011. A month later, I signed up for a beginners jewelry-making class offered through the county for $6. I went to my first class, and two hours later, I left with five pieces of jewelry that I had just made. The skills I learned in the class evolved into a love for creating and designing one-of-a-kind jewelry items. I found that I have a real knack for recycling loose beads, broken bracelets, and tangled necklaces and morphing them into new meaning for each unique piece.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
A wonderful combination of treasure chest and lock. Ahoy mate! Photo: Martha Lewis.

GMM: Who was your inspiration?

ML: My grandmother, Edith, and her namesake, my mother. They both loved colorful and shiny jewels. With the passing of each, I was afforded the privilege to be the new owner of their trinkets. Since they both grew up and lived on the York River, as did I, EdithYorkinspired was chosen as the name for my jewelry line.

GMM: I understand that you have memories of a favorite childhood piece that belonged to your grandmother. Can you tell us a bit more about that piece and why it speaks to you?

ML: When I was a child, my grandmother gave me an opal ring surrounded with rhinestones. I loved wearing it, even though it turned my finger green! I still have the ring, and I will always cherish it.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
An eclectic combination of brass elements combines for a beautiful necklace. Photo: Martha Lewis.

GMM: Can you tell us a bit more about where you find the pieces for your designs? Sometimes at local thrift stores, I see bags of broken pieces of jewelry. Do you snatch those up?

ML: I find a lot of vintage jewelry at estate sales and auctions. Typically, there will be a box or bag of broken and tangled jewelry up for sale. More often than not, I bid on the unknown. Once I get home and rummage through it, it’s always a surprise to see what I can actually use. I have gotten some pieces from thrift shops, but I find that most of their grab bags are costume jewelry.

GMM: How long does it take you to make your pieces?

ML: Since each piece is unique, that plays a big role in how long it takes to complete. If I finish a piece but am not pleased with it, I will break it down and start over.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
Making use of old timepieces. Photo: Martha Lewis.

GMM: Can you tell us a bit about what goes into the creative process to take a bag of loose beads, pendants, etc. and form a vision for the new piece?

ML: Usually, I will decide on a pendant, or main focal point and go from there. Coordinating beads, chains, charms, and a clasp are all decided on before I begin crafting.

GMM: Are you aware that some of the pieces you create fit in nicely with cosplay and steampunk? I’ve seen clocks, keys, owls, and other wonderful vintage items in your jewelry.

ML: When I first started this hobby, probably 75 percent of what I was making was related to or referred to as steampunk. I still make that style along with beaded items. Since each piece is created from a vision, it pretty much depends on my thought pattern at that moment.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
Tools of the trade and a wonderful assortment of pieces to work with. Photo: Martha Lewis.

GMM: I understand that you previously sold your jewelry at local consignment stores and through Bling of the Past. How can interested buyers view the current pieces you have for sale?

ML: In June 2015, I launched EdithYorkinspired on Etsy. I plan to add new items on a regular basis to hopefully capture repeat viewers and lots of sales.

GMM: Thanks for taking the time to talk to the GeekMom readers about your wonderfully unique jewelry items.

ML: It was my pleasure, and thank you for offering to spotlight EdithYorkinspired.

EdithYorkinspired Jewelry on Etsy
Beautiful green-themed owl. Photo: Martha Lewis.

Like what you see? Martha would love to have you visit her EdithYorkinspired Etsy store.

GeekMom Fashion Inspiration: Charlie Bradbury

GeekMom Fashion Inspiration © Sophie Brown
GeekMom fashion inspiration © Sophie Brown.

To celebrate last week’s season finale of Supernatural, we’re taking a look at the wardrobe of Charlie Bradbury. Charlie is the archetypal geek girl—how could she be anything else when portrayed by the legendary Felicia Day—and her style is the ultimate in geek chic.

Continue reading GeekMom Fashion Inspiration: Charlie Bradbury

A ‘Star Wars’ Manicure That Turns Your Nails Into BB-8

Image: KayleighOC
Image: User KayleighOC on DeviantArt (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Roughly once every two weeks I get my nails done. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures and it forces me to sit down and relax and do nothing. It’s impossible to write or even use your phone when you’re getting a manicure and sometimes I need forced relaxation. None of my manicures have been as cool as this one featuring BB-8.

He’s the runaway star of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and he only had a few precious seconds on screen in the trailer. I imagine that R2-D2 is somewhere off in a corner pouting because the little orange droid with the rolling ball for a body has stolen his thunder.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love R2-D2, but BB-8 is too cute to ignore. I want to know how he works and I want to know what he’s up to in the movie. That’s why this is the best Star Wars-themed manicure ever.

It’s the work of Kayleigh O’Connor who has created all sorts of amazing nail art from Star Wars to Breaking Bad. This time, each of her nails is tipped with bright orange, but her thumb has been transformed into a perfect 3D version of BB-8.

(via FashionablyGeek)

Knitted Captain America Costume Beats All The Rest

Image: David Alvarez Cosplay
Image: David Alvarez Cosplay.

I once attempted learning how to knit, but it did not go well. The yarn has long since been given away, but this makes me wish I’d kept at it awhile longer. It’s a full Captain America costume that has been knitted from top to bottom.

She’s knitted the boots, belt, gloves, and even a bag that doubles as a shield. Although a shield is Cap’s primary weapon, cosplayer Fangirl Physics also comes armed with two matching blue knitting needles. This is just amazing!

Image: Corpus Photography
Image: Corpus Photography.

If you’re thinking of attempting this cosplay on your own, then you’ll want to check out her making-of page, which has the details of how she made it all. There’s also a link to the pattern and she has been answering questions, too.

So, if I started trying to learn to knit again, then there may be a chance I could figure out how to do this in time for next winter. Or maybe I should just stick to buying premade costumes and leave the knitting to the pros.

(via Fashionably Geek)

The Heels of These Shoes Are Carved Wooden Dragons

Image: Fashion4Freedom
Image: Fashion4Freedom

It’s a stereotype, I know, but women do tend to love shoes. I have a closet full of shoes and technically do not need another pair, but that won’t stop me from buying more anyway. Sometimes, shoes are beautiful, like these with their carved, wooden dragons for heels.

Image: Fashion4Freedom
Image: Fashion4Freedom

You can find them in the Fashion4Freedom Etsy shop and they’re not only beautiful, but have an incredible backstory. It’s called the Saigon Socialite shoe collection and it’s a tribute to the ancient Vietnamese craft of Pagoda wood art.

Fashion4Freedom takes liberty in translating the timeless beauty of ancient Vietnamese wood art through the lens of modern luxury. After 18 days incubated in the hands of village artisans, our reincarnated soles are born.

The collection is a fusion of ancient symbols found in traditional art combined with a modern sensibility for comfort.

Image: Fashion4Freedom
Image: Fashion4Freedom

There are a variety of designs that include dragons and horses, and each is handmade so they’re going to be unique to the wood and the artist who made the carving. No two can be exactly alike. They even request a photo of the outline of your foot so they can customize the fit to your exact foot shape and size.

The wooden heels come in 3″ or 6″ heights and have rubber soles so you won’t be as likely to slip down the sidewalk. The uppers are semi-gloss ultra smooth leather lined in pig skin. Check out Fashion4Freedom and see if you’re not tempted to add one more pair of shoes to your collection.

Image: Fashion4Freedom
Image: Fashion4Freedom

(via FashionablyGeek)

Do You Have The Cosplay Bug?

Whoops! Wrong bug. \ Image Flickr user pikawil100, some rights reserved
Whoops! Wrong bug. \ Image: Flickr user pikawil100, some rights reserved

Five years ago, the costume bug bit me hard. The only known cure was to build a costume of my own and wear it out to as many conventions as possible. What no one told me was that the cure was addicting. Once you built one costume, there was a good chance you would want to build another, and then another, and so on.

With five years of experience in the craft under my belt, I’d like to share with you some symptoms that you may exhibit if you too are bitten by the costume bug. If any of these sound like you, I suggest you immediately… do nothing. It’s a fun hobby and you could be doing worse with your time after all.

You know you’re a cosplayer when…

You have more reference pictures of your current build than you do of your own children.

You hoard JoAnn Fabrics coupons and know all the tricks to getting the best deals (including using competitors coupons).

Clip: Galaxy Quest

When you meet someone new,  your first thought is which character they would look best in.

Your friends no longer question how you cut yourself and instead ask what costume you were working on at the time.

Clip: Star Wars Episode V

You walk into Home Depot and see endless possibilities that have nothing to do with actual plumbing or home improvement.

Someone asks you what you think about a particular character and instead of remarking on their personality, you comment on how difficult their costume would be to build.

You know the true value of duct tape, super glue, and a sewing kit in an emergency.

duct tape
Clip: Mythbusters duct tape special

You’ve done household chores in various costume parts because you are testing out your mobility and comfort levels.

Your garage is filled with tools and supplies that have never been used for their intended purpose.

You have more costumes than work appropriate clothing.

arrow cool
Clip: The Flash series premiere

You openly admit to skinning leather couches you see on the side of the road for project material.

You have to advise your spouse that those empty bottles on the table are NOT trash & not to dare throw them out. They will eventually become rocket boosters.

You get excited for new costume ideas more than new plot lines.

Clip: My Little Pony – Power Ponies, The Hub

Your desk has been covered in partially painted deconstructed Nerf gun parts for the last six weeks.

Your spouse starts asking if this bronzer/eye shadow/nail polish is yours or mine?!

Special thanks to my Facebook friends and fellow GeekMoms for their contribution to this article.

Cosplayer’s Survival Kit

Cosplay Emergency \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Image: Dakster Sullivan

It’s not uncommon for something to go wrong while wearing a costume. The trick is learning how to handle it with what you have on you. I’ve worn a range of costumes from armor to body paint and they all require a few basic principles when out and about. If your character has a bag of some sort as part of their costume, you’re in luck. For the rest of us who have to make do with our pockets or utility belts, it can be a bit harder.

Sewing kit
Image: Dollar Tree

The Empire didn’t exactly issue your average backpacks to the clones, so when it comes to my armor costume, I have to rely on someone else to carry my emergency supplies. In this case, I get the individual sized super glue packs at the Dollar Store and I pre-cut some duct tape in the color of my armor. That’s really all you can do when you have a hard plastic build. Zip ties are great to keep on hand as well and are Empire approved.

If your build has some soft parts where you can store a few necessities, here is what I suggest you keep on you.

My personal favorite emergency kit item is an emergency sewing kit I found at the Dollar Store. It’s just small enough to fit into my Batgirl pouch, but large enough to hold everything listed below, with some room to spare. The clear bag makes it easy to check your supplies quickly.

A few things I added to this kit are:

– Hand sanitizer to keep the con crud away
– A contact lens case filled with paint for touch ups (get one that screws shut)
– Cotton balls (for applying paint)
– Small comb (you want to look your best in the paid photo ops don’t you?)
– Needle and thread in the color of your soft parts
– Pre-cut duct tape in the color of your costume (next to C4, it’s the most useful stuff on the planet)
– The individual use size super glue (your local dollar store should sell something like this).
– Rewetting drops / spare set of contacts
– Chapstick

When it comes to snacks, I like to keep beef jerky, gum, and small candy that won’t melt. It’s not much, but when you’re hungry and the lunch line is an hour long, it will make a difference in your stomach.

For hydration, I’ve discovered that the squeeze and go apple sauce packets double as disposable water bottles. Freeze a couple apple sauce packets the night before and store them in your pockets the day of the convention. Once you eat the apple sauce, fill it up with water from the water fountain and you have a nice little stash to keep you from dehydrating.

Do you have a go-to item for costuming emergencies? Share it with us in the comments. We’d love some ideas on what to add to ours.

GeekMom Fashion Inspiration: Jemma Simmons

GeekMom Fashion Inspiration © Sophie Brown
GeekMom Fashion Inspiration © Sophie Brown

Jemma Simmons has a style that combines practical geek with feminine. Her wardrobe is full of cute pieces that emphasize her “nice girl” demeanor, especially when contrasted with the black and leather in the outfits worn by Skye and May.

Continue reading GeekMom Fashion Inspiration: Jemma Simmons

Harry Potter Prints Are Giving Us All the Feels

Oh, Spoonflower. Your designers just own our hearts. Where else could we go to find the coolest fabric designs for our crafty machinations?

Spoonflower is such a game changer if you love fabric—especially geeky fabric. Anyone can upload their own design and sell it straight to consumers on a variety of fabric options. You can even just have your own stuff custom-printed for a project. And—ahem—the prints are also available as wallpaper and wrapping paper. Squee!!

I miss Harry Potter. All the time. I may just have to save my pennies and support these independent designers. My sewing machine is crying out for these. Click on the images below to buy from the site.

The Sweater That Lived
Image courtesy of Spoonflower, used with permission.

The Sweater That Lived by Designs by Mandrie
It’s a Harry Potter print inspired by ugly Christmas sweaters. What about this is not completely amazing?!

Harry Potter Kids
Image courtesy of Spoonflower, used with permission.

Harry Potter Kids by id_insomniacdesigns
Adorable little cartoonish Harries and Rons and Hermiones. I big glittery heart this.

Under Your Spell (Gryffindor dark)
Image courtesy of Spoonflower, used with permission.

Under Your Spell (Gryffindor Dark) by Implexity Designs
This print is available in a bunch of colorways. It would look amazing in a quilt.

Ravenclaw Argyle
Image courtesy of Spoonflower, used with permission.

Ravenclaw Argyle by id_insomniacdesigns
There are argyles for every house available, so pledge your allegiance.

slytherin baby
Image courtesy of Spoonflower, used with permission.

Slytherin Baby by Small Pirates
Darling little evil ties.

Harry Potter
Image courtesy of Spoonflower, used with permission.

Harry Potter by 3 Peas Fleece
The layout of this print just makes me want to sway and solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

Harry Potter-ch
Image courtesy of Spoonflower, used with permission.

Harry Potter-ch by closet_crafter
I kind of really want to upholster a chair in this print.

Dark Mark
Image courtesy of Spoonflower, used with permission.

Dark Mark by Studio Fibonacci
I find this just darling, and I do not know how to feel about that.

Lessons Learned From SciFi and Comic Book Conventions

Let’s cosplay! \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

I’ve been attending conventions in costume for five years now. I’ve had a lot of fun and I’ve also learned quite a few lessons.

Don’t wait till the night before to plan your costumes.
Some costumes take from a few months to a year to complete. Start planning your costumes way in advance so you have it all done in time with no stress the night before.

Focus on one build at a time. 
Focus on completing one costume before starting on another. If you start looking for next year’s ideas now, you won’t get this year’s build done. Give yourself time after the convention to think about what you want to do next year, and then do it.

Put your entire costume on at least a week before the convention.
Don’t try out a new costume at a convention without wearing it for a few hours first. This allows you to work out any kinks and make any adjustments.

Call your local comic book store and see if they will let you make an appearance in costume for a few hours to get a feel for everything. This will also help you get used to people looking at you and asking for pictures.

Practice makes for perfect pictures.
Every costume has its limits when it comes to mobility and posing. Try your poses out in front of a mirror or with someone taking your picture. This will allow you to become comfortable in the poses and be quick to strike one when a photographer asks for a photo.

Set a budget and bring cash.
Not all the vendors take credit cards because most conventions make them pay to use the internet in the vendor room. Take enough cash to cover what you must have and then use credit for the little things.

Be aware of your surroundings and who is pointing a camera at you.
While cosplaying as Aayla Secura at MegaCon in 2013, a fellow 501st Legion member was helping me to adjust the top half of my costume. In her words, “It looked like I had been punched in the chest.” Where she had her hand would have looked strange if you didn’t know I had a shirt on under where her hand was. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash go off and a photographer with his camera pointed in my direction. I’m not sure if I was the intended subject or not, but either way, I just allowed myself to be photographed in a compromising way. If you need to make costume adjustments, the best place to go is in the bathroom or behind a curtain of a booth. If neither of those are easily accessible, get a group of friends to surround you while you make the adjustment.

Don’t just hang out in the vendor room or at the panels.
Past years I’ve noticed that I don’t have as many pictures of my cosplay circling the internet as I had hoped. This was because I spent 99% of my time in the vendor room and not in the hallways where all the photographers hung out.

At all the conventions I’ve been to, you don’t have to pay to enter the convention center itself. You only need to pay if you’re going to a panel or into the vendor room. A lot of photographers would rather just spend their time walking the halls for cosplayers rather than in a crowded vendor room with limited lighting and space. After a photographer takes your picture, make sure to ask for a business card to find them later.

Do not be afraid to defend yourself or say no!
This is a big one. Last year, I was in my Robyn Hood (Zenescope) cosplay and a guy walked up and not only looked down my shirt the entire time he was talking to me, but also decided it was appropriate to play with my belly button ring, while asking if it was real. You’d think I’d have slapped the stupid look on his face, but instead I was too stunned to do anything. I looked at him as a “special kind of stupid” and moved on, while wondering how I should have handled that situation without overreacting.

If you are not sure you have the voice to tell someone to stop something, have friends that are not afraid to speak up and tell people to back off.

Go with a friend.
Having a friend nearby not only makes the convention that much more fun, but keeps you that much safer if something happens.

True story – I made the mistake of wandering a convention by myself in Aayla Secura and after four hours, my head was hurting so bad, it felt like Iron Man and the Hulk were going at it in my skull. It took me over 45-minutes to walk a 20-minute span of space to my hotel room because I was stopped so many times trying to escape. If I had listened to my friends at the 501st Legion booth and just stayed by them, I would have gotten out of pain much quicker and with less attention.

Have a “non-costumed” day
I love wearing my costumes, but they can get tiring while trying to enjoy the vendors room and going through the massive amount of comics on sale. I give myself one day of the convention to relax in regular clothes and scope out the sales and take pictures of other cosplayers. I usually make this the last day of the convention since most people wear their hardcore costumes on Saturday. I also have an “easy day” costume for Friday’s when I’m getting the layout of the land.

Hydrate the night before and the day of (and I don’t mean with alcohol or sugary drinks).  
Don’t think that just because you’re indoors that you don’t need to hydrate as often. Drink only water the day before you get dressed up and drink only water or the occasional sports drink the day of. This will keep you feeling great while looking awesome in your build.

Have fun and be safe!
Regardless if you bought your costume, are going in casuals, or worked for months to get that perfect look, have fun with it! Take pictures, talk to other convention-goers, and let your geek flag fly.

Remember! It doesn’t matter why you are at the convention or how you got there. The most important part is to have fun and be safe while doing it. Use your common sense when walking to and from your car or hotel and have a meet-up spot in case you get separated from your group. If you have kids with you, write your contact information on their wrist so they can show security if you get lost from them.

Do you have any advice for convention attendees? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Crochet This Baymax Hat For Your Favorite ‘Big Hero 6’ Fan

Image: RepeatCrafterMe
Image: RepeatCrafterMe

Fans of Big Hero 6 will absolutely love this adorable crocheted Baymax hat. I haven’t crocheted a thing since I was little, but this could make me get back into the hobby. It’s the work of Sarah of RepeatCrafterMe who has posted the full directions on her site along with step-by-step photos to help you with the project.

She has it all broken down so that there’s a section for the hat, a section for the head, and a section for the arms to make it easier to follow. Baymax is also easier to work with than some other characters because he’s all white except for his little black button eyes so there aren’t lots of colors to manage.

Image: RepeatCrafterMe
Image: RepeatCrafterMe

Technically this is for kids, but who’s to say that you couldn’t modify things just a bit and make this for yourself? No one. So go ahead and crochet this adorable hat for yourself and absolutely no one is going to try to stop you. They will, however, be jealous so make sure you keep a close eye on him so he doesn’t go home with the wrong grown-up.

You can find the instructions at RepeatCrafterMe along with all sorts of nerdy crocheted items. Best of all, the patterns are free!

(via FashionablyGeek)

Cinderella 2015: A Princess in the Golden Age of Hollywood

Cinderella Picture
Image Courtesy Disney

Disney has spent a lot of time re-examining its traditional tales. In Frozen, the not-at-all passive princess saves the kingdom from the evil prince. In Maleficent, the evil queen turns out to not be so evil after all. And we’re not even going to start with Once Upon a Time. By retelling Cinderella, this story could have actually gone back to much older versions of the fairy tale, where the father isn’t so kind-hearted and the stepsisters are willing to cut off pieces of their feet in order to fit into the tiny golden shoe. That would make for some fine family viewing, eh?

Cinderella does not reinvent the basic Disney version of this story. There are no major plot surprises in the retelling. Her stepsisters are still wicked. Her pumpkin still turns into a coach, and our heroine is still the pleasant peasant girl who gets rescued by the prince. The message of the story, we are told perhaps a little too repeatedly, is “have courage and be kind.”

Kenneth Branagh has reinterpreted this live-action Cinderella to feel like a golden age of Hollywood classic (with English accents). Cate Blanchett’s wicked stepmother wanders around in 1940’s inspired hats with veils, pin-curled updos, bright red lips, and “mode de Paris.” The stepsisters don peter pan collars, loud prints, big curly hair, and pink, fuzzy 1950’s inspired sweater shrugs. Cinderella’s ball dress looks as if it mixed the original cartoon dress with a little Scarlett O’Hara and a lot of Swarovski crystals.

While the update remains consistent with the animated classic, this live-action movie is longer, and the characters are a little deeper. Cinderella, we learn, is really named Ella and given the nickname Cinder-Ella by her wicked stepsisters. Our prince has a name in this story (Kit) and motivations and friends. He’s not just a cardboard figure on a horse (though the love-at-first-sight aspect is probably the weakest part of the movie). Even the wicked stepmother isn’t completely without depth. She’s still despicable, but she’s not a mindless sociopath.

Cinderella is still mostly a passive damsel in distress, but she does have some agency. She claims she remains in the house her parents loved by choice. When she confronts her wicked stepmother, she makes another choice, and movie-goers will cheer at the scene. I would have liked to have seen a stronger princess from post-Frozen Disney, but at least she wasn’t a total doormat. She didn’t seem to want to save herself, but she consistently tried to save others (have courage and be kind).

Lily James (Rose on Downton Abbey) is a very charming and innocent Cinderella. Her fellow Downton Abbey castmember Sophie McShera plays one of her wicked stepsisters (there’s a brief nod with a servant bell scene). Helena Bonham Carter is a wonderfully quirky fairy godmother, and Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) has a brief part as Cinderella’s biological mother. We get a “real” prince (Richard Madden) from Game of Thrones—without any red weddings.

I brought my teen daughter along to the preview to hear her take. She thought the movie was mostly pretty good and the fairy stepmother scenes were fantastic, but she was disappointed that there wasn’t more complexity to the storyline. She also thought Cinderella was “too mellow” in her reactions and should be less passive.

Overall, this is still a fun, family-friendly feel-good movie, even if it isn’t telling us a new story. But don’t take that as encouragement to keep making more movies about passive heroines. Next time give us a little more self-rescuing princess.

GeekMom Fashion Inspiration: Abigail Mills

GeekMom Fashion Inspiration © Sophie Brown
GeekMom Fashion Inspiration © Sophie Brown

Lieutenant Abigail Mills from Fox Network’s Sleepy Hollow is one of the toughest cops on television; and her wardrobe reflects that. Abbie’s clothing is all about practicality and comfort, after all, you can’t go chasing down demons, witches, and monsters in stiletto heels and party dresses. Her simple style makes her easy to emulate and it’s a look that can be adapted to suit anyone.

Abigail Mills © Sophie Brown via Polyvore
Abigail Mills © Sophie Brown via Polyvore

Neutrals: Abbie sticks almost exclusively to neutral shades in her clothing which serves to compliment both her stunning skin tone and hair color. Neutrals are great because they can be worn by everyone and are nearly always flattering (there’s a reason why every woman owns a basic black dress). Stick with greys, blacks, browns, and perhaps a touch of navy blue and you’re halfway to achieving Abbie’s look.

V-Necks: Another staple of Abbie’s wardrobe is the v-neck t-shirt. Wear one with a plain vest top in a contrasting shade underneath for instant layers. This technique is also great for adding some extra warmth to your outfit without adding bulk if you’re in a cold climate.

Boots: I love Abbie’s choice of footwear. How many female law enforcement agents do you see on TV wearing ludicrously impractical heels (I’m looking at you Kate Beckett). Not so Abbie; she sticks with comfy, practical short boots that are just as great for running away from demons as they are for kicking some serious butt.

Promo Shot  of Abbie with Ichabod on Sleepy Hollow © Fox (Fair Use)
Promo Shot of Abbie with Ichabod on Sleepy Hollow © Fox (Fair Use)

Skinny Jeans: Nothing goes with boots quite like a good pair of skinny jeans. Try to find the time to shop around for your jeans (yeah I know, I hate clothes shopping too) but the range of cuts and styles that make it so damn annoying also increases the likelihood that at least some will look amazing on you. BuzzFeed recently ran a feature where one of its female contributors tried on 10 different pairs of jeans that all claimed to be the same size. The variety of results she came up with was mind-boggling; just keep that in mind when one store claims you are two sizes larger than what you thought.

Jackets: Abbie has a number of different jackets but she always sticks to shorter lengths that end around her hips. Most of her jackets are leather, usually in either brown or tan, however she does have a few more distinctive ones including some designs with contrasting sleeves in a different color and/or fabric. A leather jacket in a style that suits you is one of my basic wardrobe essentials because they go with so much and work through much of the year.

Accessories and Make Up: Abbie usually keeps the accessories to a minimum–she’s all about practicality–but one item we have seen her don is her military style cap. It’s a less common style than the broadly similar baseball cap (more hipster-y beret) but once again it’s a practical choice. Abbie’s makeup is always very natural, almost to the point of barely being able to tell she’s wearing any. She uses a soft pink lipstick and natural or nude shades of eye-shadow to keep with the neutral look.

BONUS: Jenny Mills
Abbie’s sister Jenny wears many of the same fashions as her sister (neutral tones, skinny jeans and boots). However, there is one thing that makes her unique: her shoulders. Nearly all Jenny’s outfits draw attention to her shoulders in some way. Examples include sleeveless tshirts that cut off across the shoulder line and military style vest tops. Jenny also favours hoodies over her sister’s short jackets.

Get Your Geek On, Beautiful: Introducing Jordandené

Image: Jordandené - Doctor Who Don't Blink Tank
Image: Jordandené – Doctor Who Don’t Blink Tank.

Tracking PixelWe have some of the coolest sponsors, and Jordandené is no exception. Tonight, I wore my new favorite sweatshirt—a teal number that reads in script: “We’re all stories in the end.” Doctor Who fans need no introduction, but if you happen to be curious, this very awesome shirt is a quote from the eleventh Doctor and a perfect accessory for this novelist.

Hey, it’s hard finding geeky fashion. It’s hard finding geeky fashion that fits, is comfortable, and is part of something great. Jordandené helps you find all of that, and then some, with their made-in-Brooklyn designs encompassing a wide variety of designs and fandoms. The company itself is all women, so they know what we’re looking for when it comes to clothes. I’m particularly fond of their line of quotes on sweatshirts, T-shirts, and tanks, meaning you can let your geek flag fly at the gym, under a blazer at work, or just lounging about at home. It’s geeky fashion that’s subtle, gorgeous, and wonderfully well made.

Image: Jordandené - some of the sweatshirt line; I adore my Ninth Doctor one.
Image: Jordandené – some of the sweatshirt line; I adore my Ninth Doctor one.

Sure, the gym and work is great. But if there’s another room in the house where I geek out the most, it’s probably the kitchen. I mean, I’m totally in my element there, throwing together dinners after work and totally getting in “the zone” with the alchemical herbs and spices around me.

While there are some cute options I’ve seen at local kitchenware stores, I’ve never come across anything as clever and awesome as what Jordandené offers. Whether you’re a Gryffindor or a Star Trekker, a Disney princess aficionado or a TARDIS junkie, they’ve designed the most amazing aprons you can imagine. The designs are distinctive and minimalist and totally stunning, especially with the flared bottom skirts.

Image: Jordandené – Kitchen superhero.

My personal favorite? Robin. Sure, Batman is cool. But I get a little giddy over the colors when it comes to Robin, and the design is too good to pass up. Second place awesome goes to the TARDIS, of course. But you can make your decision.

And if clothes aren’t quite your thing, you’ll be glad to know that Jordandené also provides a large selection of kids clothes, tote bags, and jewelry. If you want to get some ideas on how to integrate this delightful geekiness into your wardrobe, you’ve got to check out their Pinterest pages, like this Harry Potter themed one, and their Polyvore collections like below.

Image: Jordandené  - a perfect Polyvore ensemble, Khaleesi style.
Image: Jordandené – a perfect Polyvore ensemble, Khaleesi style.

Even more exciting than sharing all this is that Jordandené is sponsoring a giveaway for our littlest geeks—that’s right, one lucky winner (chosen at random) will get an Astroanimal Baby Onesie. Just enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And even if you don’t win, you still will, because you can get 25% off your purchase at the Jordandené store by entering geeklove2015 at checkout. It’s valid for anything on the site.

So browse, enter, and geek on, my friends.

This post is sponsored by Jordandené.

GeekMom Fashion Inspiration: Peggy Carter

GeekMom Fashion Inspiration  © Sophie Brown
GeekMom Fashion Inspiration © Sophie Brown

Agent Peggy Carter with her elegant 1940s chic and ball-busting attitude is the current darling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Marvel fans and feminists alike applauding Agent Carter‘s daring take on what it meant to be a woman at the end of the Second World War. Peggy’s wardrobe has become something of a character in and of itself with an entire section of the show’s official website given over to analysis of her costumes (and those of other characters on the show—especially Dottie and Angie) and discussions with costume designer Giovanna “Gigi” Ottobre-Melton. It only seems fair then that we should kick off our new GeekMom Fashion Inspiration feature with a look at how to recreate Peggy’s look for yourself.

Peggy Carter © Sophie Brown via Polyvore
Peggy Carter © Sophie Brown via Polyvore

Tailored: While most of us wouldn’t be able to afford to have our clothes personally tailored, well cut clothing is essential in emulating Peggy Carter’s style. Although not always formal, her clothes are always neat with clean lines and little fuss. Forget frills and lace, her outfits are minimalistic yet very feminine, partly as a result of fabric rationing after the war. Watch out for wide collars and lapels—these are a trademark of Peggy’s style and often have contrasting angles and shapes.

Military: Peggy is a patriot—she was Captain America’s sweetheart after all—and that is reflected in her clothing. Look out for pieces with military style including Naval (she rocks a stunning navy blue dress with white stripes in episode two) and use tones of red, white, and blue. The symbolism can be subtle, such as the Eagle Wing pin brooch above which resembles Air Force wings, but remember that wearing actual medals is a big no-no unless you earned them yourself.

Stripes: Possibly for another patriotic nod, Peggy is often seen wearing stripes, sometimes more subtly than others. Her suits often have a subtle pin stripe to them and we’ve seen bolder stripes on her hats and dresses too. Try to avoid wearing them alongside a starry item unless you want to emulate Uncle Sam instead.

Agent Carter Promo Poster © ABC
Agent Carter Promo Poster © ABC

Skirts: Agent Carter is set in the 1940s when most women wore skirts or dresses every day. In order to reflect Peggy’s style, keep skirts a modest knee-length and cleanly cut; pencils and A-lines work best. Anything too long will get tangled around your legs if you have to take down some Hydra agents on your way to the office.

Accessories: Peggy often wears low heels that aren’t too showy but maintain feminine details with thin straps. Her shoes always match the overall color of her outfit, unlike her purses which are frequently in a contrasting color as with her belts. Of course Peggy’s most iconic accessory is her red hat. In the 1940s hats were commonplace, whereas today you’ll probably attract some attention simply by wearing one. The fedora has garnered some bad press lately thanks to its association with GamerGate (even though it’s been frequently mixed up with the trilby) but hopefully the combined awesome of Peggy Carter and Indiana Jones can restore its once good name.

Hair and Make Up: Peggy’s hair is always flawless. Personally I am a strong advocate of the roll-out-of-bed-and-comb-my-fingers-through-it school of hair maintenance but that simply will not fly with a Peggy Carter outfit. Her hair is usually styled in soft wavy curls but is occasionally pinned up for more formal occasions. Peggy’s makeup is mostly subtle except for her lips which are always bright red. Actress Hayley Atwell has revealed on Twitter that the show uses Besame’s 1946 Red Velvet to get that glorious red shade. To cap off the look, use a bright red nail polish too.

Head Into The Woods for Cosplay Ideas

into the woods main
It’s never too early to do some hunting and gathering for costume and cosplay ideas, and Disney’s Into The Woods is a wealth of inspiration. Image © Disney. All rights reserved.

Into The Woods, Disney’s fairy tale amalgam based on Stephen Sondheim’s and James Lapine’s smash musical, hit the box offices near the top of the list over the holiday season. It has since wormed its way into the heart of musical, fantasy, and fairy tale fans alike.

With Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands) behind the style, there should be no surprise if this movie becomes one of the bigger influences for costume ideas this year.

Since it’s never too early to start thinking about the summer’s comic convention scene, or even next fall’s masquerade, here are a few of the film’s more memorable characters, and how to capture their look:

The Wolf

Image © Disney. All rights reserved.

Why He’s Cool: When is a “Big Bad Wolf” ever not fun? Human baddies have such deviant reasons for their bad choices, but a wolf’s just an animal… and he’s gotta eat. Right? Okay, maybe not. He might not always be likable, but he’s always entertaining. In the stage version of Into The Woods, Wolf is a coveted character by actors, not just because the one who portrays him is often the same one who gets to be the flighty Prince, but he’s so much fun to play. Johnny Depp’s small but screen-stealing movie version will only make the character that much more popular.

What to Wear: Depp said in the movie’s press information that Atwood’s design was pretty much exactly what he imagined for himself in the role.

“(I  just) had this burning sort of vision in my head of the Wolf, and all I could think of was the wolf in the zoot suit in the Tex Avery cartoons: a hip, big, bad wolf with a fedora and a zoot suit and a cat chain,” he said.

This is so easy to do, as all it takes is an old second hand oversized suit. Some costume retailers like Spirit have gangster and zoot suit costumes for $30 to $50 that are easy to modify, as well. The “wolf” effect can be created by a simple black and silver line design with cloth paint, along with craft fur added to the lapels, and coat cuffs. Tack on costume wolf or fox tail (or make one using a craft store boa). All the wide-brimmed hat needs is a pair of wolf ears on the hatband. Like the tail, these can be made with a couple of pieces of craft fur, cut to resemble wolf ears.

A cheap, dollar store gag mustache can be cut and waxed to make the wolf’s whiskers, and you’re good to go.

Baker and Baker’s Wife

Image © Disney. All rights reserved.

Why They’re Cool: The Baker is the true hero of this adventure. This average, everyday man unintentionally steps into the role of the kingdom’s savior as he overcomes his self-doubt.

The Baker’s Wife isn’t the princess in distress, she’s the one who steps up to challenges, struggles with right and wrong choices, but remains reliant and brave. These may not be the characters people dream about being in their fairy tale fantasies, but they certainly are the most believable.

What to Wear: The trick to either of these characters, which will work as individuals or as a couple’s costume, is the accessories. These characters bring the rest of the fairy tales together as they try to gather special items to lift a curse. Any earth-toned peasant-looking clothes gathered from the closet will work. A brown vest or coat, and baggy pants with a white shirt is fine for the Baker. Use a brown or patchwork long skirt or peasant dress for the Baker’s Wife. These aren’t what people will be noticing, in the costume, as long you are loaded down with the four items—a red cloak, gold slipper, yellow hair and snow white cow.

These will be much easier to gather than the story suggests. Braid three long pieces of yellow craft boa for the hair, spray paint gold an old high-heeled pump, find a bright red piece of cloth (it doesn’t have to be an actual cloak; a red blanket throw or scarf will work), and grab a white toy plush cow. Toss these items over your shoulders, have them sticking out of pockets or pouches, or tote them awkwardly under your arms, and there’s no mistaking the quest on which you’re embarking.

Little Red

Image © Disney. All rights reserved.

Why She’s Cool: Don’t let the blue dress, red shoes, and braids fool you, Little Red Riding Hood is no Dorothy of Oz. This kid is headstrong, tough, just mischievous enough to be cute but not bratty, and no one is going to throw her off her path… after the first time, that is.  Little Red is the ideal costume for young girls with a purpose and a passion for life, but is also a fun choice for grown-ups.

What to Wear: There is only one essential element for the Into The Woods version of Red Riding Hood, the cloak of blood red. Any simple blue peasant or sundress can be used to start.

A simple cloak or throw with large red ribbon attached is all there is to the standard storybook cloak, but it needs a special twist to really make it adhere to the spirit of the film: wolf skin. Line the inside of the cloak with craft fur similar to that of Wolf’s costume. Now you have reversible cloak for after her victory over the ravenous beast.

Red lace-up boots or even high top sneakers will look cute and sporty with this, but for purists and adult cosplayers enthralled with those unique boots in the movie, Victorian Trading Co. has their cabaret high top boots in red for under $100.

Cinderella’s Step Family

stepfa family
Image © Disney. All rights reserved.

Why They’re Cool: They are absolutely horrible, rude, narcissistic, and nasty, and therefore extremely fun. While Cinderella’s golden ball gown and slippers were beautiful, the real costume party is with the evil stepsisters. Cinderella’s humility and kindness may make her the one to emulate, the stepsisters’ outrageous behavior makes them the ones to imitate in the cosplay world.

What to Wear: These characters get their look from a little classic fairy tale, a little gothic steampunk, a bit of lacy French boudoir, and a lot of sass. This is the chance to go a little wild and crazy with things. Put together some combinations of ornate, lacy black, white, and champagne colored corsets, bloomers, ruffled slips or skirt, colored tights or stockings, and vintage dressing gowns. These can be pieced together from consignment stores or costume site. A camisole and fancy belt can also replace a corset. Accessorize with gaudy costume jewelry ribbons, hair bows or combs, and stockings or tights. Overdo your nails and eyes with dark polish and eyeliner, and get a pair of tacky pumps or lace-up boots. These are great characters to really make your own, and don’t be shy about adding too mush lavish silliness. This family is all about the attitude. Go ahead and flaunt it ad nauseam, just for one day.

The Witch

Image © Disney. All rights reserved.

Why She’s Cool: The Witch drives the plot, for good or bad. The quintessential fairy tale witch, she is the one who set the curse, the one who enslaved the princess, and ultimately the one who offers the right solutions. Hero or villain, there wouldn’t be a story without her.

What to Wear: The hair is more important that the dress with this one. It’s blue tones echo the blue of the moon on the “last midnight” of the adventure, and it is instantly recognizable.

According to the press release, Atwood made sure “The Woods” were well represented in all the costumes, and each character’s costume had a texture of wood in some way. The “transformed” Witch’s chiffon dress included some pieces of leather stitched in to look like cracked bark. You don’t have to go that far, as long as you follow the color scheme. Any used blue ball gown with puffed sleeves will work, when paired with a blue wig in a loose updo.

These costumes don’t have to match exactly, as long as they capture that dark fairy tale essence. All it takes is just a little searching to find the right items, and you’ll be ready for any of those “moments in the woods.”

Both the old and young version of The Witch, portrayed by Meryl Streep, make for colorful costume ideas. Image © Disney. All rights reserved.

Scarf From Hell

Beauty can be deceiving. (image: L. Weldon)
Beauty can be deceiving. (Image: L. Weldon)

I’m all about buying handmade things. I like the idea that my money supports people who pursue their passions. It’s a feel-good way to buy lovely gifts and grab some loot for myself. I’ve always been happy with my purchases. That is, until I came across the Scarf From Hell for sale at an urban pop-up craft fair. Its softness was devilishly enticing and it came in all sorts of lush colors, with a hand-written tag noting the yarns were spun from reclaimed silk saris. Definitely my kind of thing. I bought two, one to give as a gift and one for me.

I mailed one scarf to a friend as a birthday present. She got back to me with effusive thanks, no hint that the scarf had yet wreaked havoc in her life.*

I didn’t break out the other one until I was leaving for a weekend conference. As I put on my black wool jacket I thought, in a last minute inspiration, I’d wear my new scarf.

After a few hours of travel time I got to the conference. I talked to a keynote presenter and greeted fellow attendees. I may have registered a few what’s-wrong-with-her glances but attributed them to my own overactive insecurity. Before the first workshop started I dashed off to the restroom. I gasped in horror as the mirror revealed the depths of my scarf’s treachery.

Hundreds of tiny, vividly colored yarn bits had pulled away from the scarf and were clinging to my coat like burrs. As I leaned over the sink more yarn confetti fell. These shreds were also in my hair and clinging with static determination to my neck. Picking them off successfully meant grabbing one strand at a time. I did what I could to clean up, then folded my jacket over my arm hoping I’d have time later to de-fuzz it. When I left the bathroom, scarf tucked into my tote bag, I noticed that a trail of yarn detritus marked every step I’d taken. The conference hallway looked like a knitter’s Hansel and Gretel re-enactment.

It was a long weekend. The cold weather meant I couldn’t go without my yarn-spangled jacket. Every time I thought I’d nearly picked it clean I found more lurking under the collar, inside my pockets, even clinging in strands to the sleeve undersides. The yarn invasion was so drastic that fibers were even evident when I blew my nose.

Strangely, I haven’t thrown the scarf out. It still lurks in the yarn-wrecked tote bag. I may need a secret weapon some day. This is fair warning. Don’t mess with me or I’ll pull the Scarf From Hell out of hiding to wrap around your neck.


*My friend insists her scarf is fine. I’m guessing she either suffers from a serious case of politeness or she’s so traumatized by her own Scarf From Hell experience that she’s repressed all memory of it.

Dress to Kill Like Agent Peggy Carter

Promo poster for Marvel’s Agent Carter. Image: Disney/ABC

“That Dame is Dangerous.”

So said the caption as Agent Carter was announced last year.

Set in the World War II era, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) is still a hero for today’s woman. She’s able to overcome odds and stereotypes based on her own willpower, brains, ingenuity, and resolve. Who needs sensitivity training when you know how to balance a desk job with undercover secret missions? Carter knows her way around the world of espionage, can stand up for what’s right, and is an expert with not only firearms, but fiery comments.

Plus, she looks incredible doing it.

Carter’s stylish and practical look shows a woman can be a superhero without the revealing spandex, and be prepped to head a top secret government espionage and law enforcement agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. without skin-tight black leather.

Sites like Etsy and Pinteret have plenty of vintage patterns available for sale, as well as links to vintage retailers. Image found on Pinterest.
Sites like Etsy and Pinterest have plenty of vintage patterns available for sale, as well as links to vintage retailers. Image found on Pinterest.

It’s no coincidence Carter’s blue and red look teased in the show’s teaser and promotional posters reflects that of her lost love, Steve Rogers (AKA Captain America). Carter is the one left to take up the task of keeping the balance between good and evil, with super smarts instead of superpowers.

It might be safe to say this series will encourage a few new cosplay and fashion trends that will look as cool on the comic convention floor as they will in the workplace.

The two definitive items are very basic: a red fedora and blue dress suit.

Carter’s fedora resembles the red hat of another world-wise character, Carmen Sandiego of computer game fame. Thanks to fans of the game, the search for red fedoras is nothing new, and sites like Amazon offer several styles of classic felt fedoras from shops like Decky and Forum Novelties. These hats range anywhere from $10 to $40, depending on label.

Carter’s suit dress is typical of the day and office wear of the 1940s but may prove trickier to find due to its distinct blue. This may be a case where haunting a vintage clothing store or consignment shop is the best bet. Online merchants like The Cats Pajamas offer similar items and vintage patterns on eBay, as well as online tutorials on how to wear clothes from that era. Vintage clothes can be a little more expensive, around $200, so those with sewing abilities might do best to make their own.

Once the suit is found, any white dress shirt, preferably with a marine or Chelsea style collar, will go with it, accented with a pair of blue sandal-style high heel, but not stiletto, pumps.

Sometimes, it is nice to go back in time where a gal can show off her blend of smarts and sexy in classic—and classy—way.







Easy Mother/Daughter Steampunk Gypsy Hairpieces

Try these steampunk-tinged gyspy hairpieces for toddlers, kids, tweens, teens and adults. Images by Rick Tate

My family will be hitting our first full-fledged Steampunk event this weekend.

One of the best things about the steampunk genre is the impressive workmanship of their costumes and props. For beginners, some of these over-the-top movie prop-worthy accessories can be quite overwhelming, expensive, and time consuming, as well as hard to manage for younger kids.

For first-time and family steampunk cosplayers, as well as those who just want to add a little blend of Bohemian and steampunk styles to their regular garb, these simple coordinating steampunk hair pieces can give mother/daughter teams a united look, while keeping things age appropriate.

Toddlers and young girl don’t always want to keep heavy things on their head for very long, so a simple hair clip is all they need. Tweens are ready to look a little more adventurous, but still want to remain active. 13-year-olds don’t have to look like 18-year-olds to be cool. This is where the more athletic ponytail bands work well.

hairpiece materials
All levels of this DIY start with a different basic hair piece, but all three utilize the same materials like deco tubing ribbon and a variety of found items. Images by Lisa Kay Tate.

Older teens and adults can make a deceptively elaborate steampunk headpiece using a pair of cheap costume goggles. These don’t have to be steampunk-style goggles; flight goggles or costume aviator or police gear from dress-up sets will also work. You can also start from scratch and use GeekMom Marziah’s popular steampunk goggle tutorial to create your own. Who says parents can’t show off a little?

What you need:

  • Alligator or bendy hair clip (for toddler/kid version)
  • Two plain pony tail bands (for tween version)
  • Costume goggles (For teen/adult version)
  • Two or three packages of deco tubing ribbon
  • Craft foam, ribbons, yarn, rope, and twine
  • Steampunk charms, trinkets, keys, watch parts, beads, feather, or other accessories or found items

Step 1: Create the tubing ribbon base. This first step is where the different age versions of the hair pieces will best coordinate with each other, as long as similar color patterns are used. The difference is the way they are attached to the hairpieces. Deco tubing ribbon is often found in seasonal decorating areas of craft stores, and can be lightly colored with spray paint to change the colors, if necessary.

For toddler version: Wrap two or three colors of tubing around your hand three times, as if working on a gift wrap bow. Secure them in the middle with beading wire. Cut the loops at the ends, so it looks like a flower for fireworks. Don’t attach to the barrette yet.

For the tween version: Knot strand of tubing around the pony tail bands by folding them in half, and wrapping the ends around the band, and through the “loop” created by folding the strand. Make the length of each strand as long as you like; 18’ inches (before folding) works well. This is identical to the method used to make ribbon tutus or hairpieces; it’s just that simple.

For the adult version: Cut a piece of elastic long enough to reach the entire length of the goggles, but don’t actually attach them to the goggles yet. Knot long strands of tubing along the elastic, the same way as the tween version. Leave about two inches of elastic on each end.

hairpiece step 1
Treat the tubing like a gift wrapping bow for the kid version (left), and simply knot it around the elastic for the tween and adult version. Images by Lisa Tate.

Step 2: Add some “Industrial’ ribbon. Steampunk has to have a at least a little of Industrial Revolution to it, and lightweight materials like craft foam and ribbons are good stand-ins for metal or rubber.

For the toddler version: Cut a piece of black, grey, or brown craft foam in circle about two inches in diameter. Fold it in half, and then fold that half again, so it resembles a cone. Clip the tip off to create a small hole in the middle of the circle. Cut the outer edges of the circle to look like flower pedals, the open up the circle. Use a hole punch around the edges to give it that “industrial” look. Thread the wire that holds the tubing ribbon together through the center hole, as you would a flower boutonniere in a doily. Attach the arrangement to the barrette.

For the tween and adults versions: Cut lengths of ribbon or craft foam in long strands and fold the end over the band, randomly between the tubing pieces. Fold over and the band or elastic and lightly tack together with a needle and thread. Use the hole punch to make holes all along the length of the strip.

Once this is done on the adult version, tie the ends of the elastic around the goggles’ band on both sides of the lenses. Using a glue gun, secure the elastic strip to the back of the goggles, to hold it in place. Cover with an additional ribbon or piece of craft foam, to keep it in place.

Add some metallic-colored or earth-tone ribbon and yarn to fill it out, if you want.

hairpiece step 2
Add some craft foam strips, ribbons, yarn, and other materials to fill out the look. Images by Lisa Kay Tate.

Step 3: Accessorize! This final step is the most fun, and is where the personality of the hairpieces start to really show. Steampunk-looking accessories can be found in the most unlikely places. Dig around through junk drawers for keys and watch pieces, raid the toy chest for old pirate, space, fairy tale, or safari party favors, search tool boxes for washers and nuts, hit the bargain bin at the craft store for beads and steampunk/industrial charms, upcycle some old long-forgotten or broken jewelry, or head outside to the backyard, forest, or beach for small feathers, twigs, shells, or other odds and ends.

Beads can be placed on the ends of the tubing, or accessories can be tied on. Some items can be glued on the barrettes or goggles. Once finished, secrure the knots with a small drop of superglue if you are afraid of losing anything. More items can be added over time.

The rule with this step is, go light on the toddler/kid version (maybe just couple of little dangly items and two or three glued-on charms), add enough to the tween version to make the pieces fun, but not too heavy, and go as crazy as you want for the teen/adult version—within reason. You want to get noticed for an impressive piece, not for falling over from a too-weighted-down head.

The accessories is where the fun comes out. Many charms and trinkets can be easily tied on the ends of yarn, ribbon or twine strands. Images by Lisa Kay Tate.

That’s all there is to making eye-catching pieces of any age. These even look great for those not ready to commit to the full-on steampunk costume. Wear them with a t-shirt and jeans, skirt, or leggings and they will still draw attention, especially if you remember to wear them as a family.

Tween pieces
These may be just modified hair clips, pony tail holders, or headbands, but they are great fun to wear. Image by Rick Tate.

How to Make a Dancing Baby Groot Costume With Only a Few Failed Attempts

Chef, Honey-Where-Are-My-Pants Guy, Dancing Baby Groot, and Rocket Raccoon.

When my husband and I got married, we were warned that we would fight about money or sex. Not us. We fight about the direction a costume is taking during construction. It has happened every time we have made costumes. After the second design failure on Groot, we just let it go (great, now that song is stuck in my head). Neither of our ideas were working, and we weren’t doing so well.

What you will need for your Dancing Baby Groot costume. Image: Cathe Post

For this Dancing Baby Groot tutorial you will need:

A Flower Pot (Ours was about 14″ in diameter, choose your accordingly)

Leggings (Brown)

Sweatshirt (Brown)

Close-cell foam 1″ thick

Gorilla Glue

Cheap Sunglasses

Cheap Plastic Foliage

Brown Painter’s Paper  Brown Paint

Green Painter’s Paper Green Paint

Brown Gloves?



Old Tennis Shoes

More Gorilla Glue


A sense of humor

Instead of a tutorial, I plan to drink wine. Acceptable? While drinking, I will share what my husband did for the other three members of our household.

Let it be known that gender roles do not apply in my house. Not only does my husband cook, he also busted his butt to sew and paint our costumes in time for GeekGirlCon in mid-October. He is the most awesome guy in the world.

First we tried gluing, then we tried sewing, finally we said a few choice curse words and painted the grain on. All images: Cathe Post

We first tried twisting and crumpling painter’s paper and using Gorilla Glue to adhere it to the sweatshirt. This worked, but was a big mess and hard to keep positioned while the glue dried. There were many colorful metaphors uttered…

Next, the twisted pieces of paper were hand-sewn onto the sweatshirt. This made our daughter look like a brown box instead of a long treeling. Plus the paper was stiff and LOUD. More cursing ensued.

Groot’s pot was constructed by cutting a flower pot in half, adding cardboard, and using copious amounts of Gorilla Glue to attach old sneakers to the bottoms. For grip, a collectible card game playing mat (basically a giant mousepad) was cut and adhered. There was no cursing involved in the making of the flower pot. Now, wearing the flower pot did cause my daughter to utter a few choice phrases (to be fair, that thing had to be a pain in the arse to walk in).

As a finishing touch, I loaded I Want You Back onto my phone and connected the iFrogz Tadpole speaker GeekMom Jenny previously talked about to the inside of the flower pot. When we get around a bunch of people, my daughter could dance like Baby Groot.

Rocket Raccoon and Groot

The Rocket costume went much more smoothly, though my costume had the most materials and items to purchase of our three costumes. Thankfully, with the announcement of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 being a definite, I know I will get future use out of my costume—and have time to make a sweet gun!

“Honey, where are my paaaaaants?”

My son’s costume (only to be worn for our Halloween commitments) went the smoothest of the three costumes, was the cheapest, and took the least amount of time to make. My son, quite specifically, asked to be the guy from “Honey, Were Are My Pants?,” the silly fictional sitcom from The Lego Movie. Honestly, when you are four, isn’t that the best part of the movie? Thanks to having a cardboard supply that multiplies like tribbles, having yellow rain pants (needed in the Pacific Northwest), and a pajama top the same color as the guy’s shirt, we only had to purchase blue spray paint and World Market Cheesy Snowballs (because the container looks like a Lego mini-figure head with a bit of modification). We had a selection of acrylic craft paints and a few different spray paints, so we didn’t even have to purchase those either. My son, needless to say, thinks that the costume is awesome—because, “Everything is awesome!”

Great. Now I have that song stuck in my head…

Thankfully, we got most of our arguing and Vulcan-Death-Match fighting out of the way on Groot’s costume. By the time the Lego guy’s costume was finished, we didn’t care where our pants were.

If you want to tell my husband that he did a geek-tastic job on our costumes, tag @timsmartini on Twitter. After making costumes for everyone else, he was too tired to make one for himself, so we dug out an old chef’s jacket and hat we’d ordered from a uniform supply. Instant costume!

Happy Halloween from Rocket, Groot, Honey-Where-Are-My-Pants guy, and Chef!