Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Zat Painting Tutorial

The latest piece to finalising my stargate costume was to paint my zat. I found a very helpful guide online for how to go about painting the sucker. In the end I think it worked out rather well for me and I am very pleased with the final turn-out (at the bottom). But in the effort of share and share alike - here is my experience detailed out for those stargate fans interested in painting their very own zat. 
Make sure that you allow yourself enough time to do all the painting. It does take some time to dry between steps, and the last thing you want is a rush job. You will also need to get all your tools in hand.


1 x resin zat - I picked mine up on ebay. It wasn't cheap but it was a good job.
Workspace with lots of newspaper or old painting sheets to cover
Dust mask for sanding
1 x spray can of black primer (bought from Supercheap auto - cheap black paint)
1 x spray can metallic paint of your choice (again from Supercheap auto)
1 x can of Matt sealer (from eckersleys art shop)
Acrylic paints - purple peal, teal and black
Paint brushes - 1 very tiny, 1 angle brush
Sandpaper - fine and very fine
Metal files / rasp

Step 1 - remove casting excess

My zat cast came with an excess amount of resin from the pour process. To remove this, I got stuck into it with a rasp to get rid of the bulk, and then tamed down to a softer metal file, before finishing off with some sandpaper. You will also need to sand down the excess on the tail. 

Step 2 - smoothing
I then got stuck into my zat with my fine sandpaper to smooth off the seam lines. It didn't take long and was well worth it in the end. If you need to fill holes in you resin weapon, you will need to do so and then sand back for a smooth finish. 

Step 3 - washing
Wash the zat. Warm water in the sink and a small amount of soap suds. I then dried her off and left her to completely air dry overnight. I used a soft scrubbing brush to help make sure that all the fine sanding was out of the grooves. 

Step 4 - prep the work area
Make sure that you more then adequately cover your work area, or this will happen. Over-spray. Not nice and a pain in the butt to get off whatever you sprayed on. After the newspaper failed me, I dug out an old painting sheet and worked on it instead. 

Step 5 - priming
Keep it in light layers. I had to go pretty heavy with my primer or undercoat as my resin model was cast white instead of black as some others on the market are. It wasn't really a problem, but just made me realise how important this really is. Because if you don't get a good covering of your primer, your colour layer will not go on as easily. If you do go in light layers, you will only have to wait for a couple of minutes between layers of paint. (Just don't do it on a wet day like me). Make sure that you cover every single part of the zat and don't forget the tail part. Once done, I left it overnight to dry completely.

Step 6 - painting

Again, light layers. It is very easy to go too heavy, but you really do not want any dribbling or spray marks from getting too close or putting on too much paint. I was amazed at how much colour goes on in only a couple of light layers. Again, make sure the you get every single nook and cranny with colour. Again, I left it overnight to dry completely. 

Step 7 - detail paints
This is where you will need a comfy chair to sit down and get stuck into it all, as it really does take a while to get done. I used my small angle brush with my pretty purple paint. I ended up with three light layers of paint - which was just perfect to cover. Once that is dry, I added the black paint on the bend. And finally, the veins. This is where the teal paint and the tiny brush come in. I have read of some people using toothpicks to put the paint in, but thankfully as a makeup artist I am quite used to painting fine lines. It didn't take me too long, but I did find that I could not use the paint straight - it was too thick. So I just mixed it with a tiny amount of water. 

Step 8 - sealing
Back onto the painting sheet and a couple of light layers of the sealer. The idea with sealing is to stop any paint rubbing off on costumes or hands. 

Step 9 - attaching the head piece.
Superglue. I was really lucky with the head piece of my zat in that the join was where both of the zat pieces were poured. Meaning that the bubbles and slight pour marks left over around the area would be covered. The only thing that I stuffed up was the amount of glue that I used. My superglue ended up oozing down the side of my zat and when I pulled it off, there went my paint. I wasn't really impressed, but managed to touch it up with a paintbrush and a smidge of my spraypaint on the can lid. Like you would for a car touch-up. 

I'm rather pleased with how it has come out in the end though. And very excited to pull it out for photos this weekend.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do you acessorise too?

In a previous post, I mentioned that I would be making some accessories to go with my regency ensembles for JAFA. And of course, as a last thing if I had time. Well, it turns out that I have found the few minutes that it takes to whip up some reticules etc.

First one, for my ballgown. What would be a ballgown without some pretty decoration? I was pretty lucky when I hit spotlight, I managed to find some pre-made satin flowers that were an almost perfect match for the satin in my dress. The only way that you would be able to tell the difference was if they were side-by-side. Not a problem when they are going in my hair. I am mainly intending to shove some of the flowers in whatever hairstyle I decide for the evening, however I did make one comb that can slide in. I just hot glued some ribbon around the edge and then glued on some black and purple flowers along with some velvet leaves. I had thought to glue on the feathers, but worried that they might sit in an odd fashion, so instead I will just be shoving those into my hair on the evening as well. And as for the reticule, it looks a little odd. I was going for a style to match the dress, loosely gathered chiffon on the top and tightly gathered at the point. It turned out looking a little strange. But not to worry, it will serve the purpose. It's just a very simple drawstring little bag the reflects the gown. 

Then there was my blue cashmere spencer. I felt that a bag would be very handy with this one as well, and since I had an abundance of fabric left over, a bag seemed the ideal use. This one is even simpler than the others, you can however see the shape of the bag this time (they are all made on the same pattern). 
Finally, there is the red linen open robe and white gown. I decided to keep this one in the red and white theme. It's made out of the leftover red linen from the robe, but I decided that it would be nice to spruce it up a little with a smidge of embroidery. I grabbed out my silk ribbon stash and got stuck into it. It really is quite simple, I have done the simple leaves in green, then some white ribbon roses and finally a few white embroidery cotton rosettes to finish. I decided just a small smattering would be enough to dress it up. 
I am glad though that I found the time to put these together. It just somehow makes me feel more put together. And I know that if I didn't get them done now, I wouldn't get them done at all. Not that it would really be that bad, I tend to use my basket most of the time anyway.

Monday, March 28, 2011


You may recall the ballgown that I wore to the Jane Austen Festival last year (link). At the time, I was not really happy with it. I liked it well enough, but to me, the gown did not feel finished. So, since I will be wearing it again this year, I thought that I would have a go at sprucing it up a bit. To go that final step to finish it off.

1. Ribbon.

I have added two thread carrier to the seams on each side of the bodice under the arm. This is to allow for a matching yellow taffeta ribbon. I am intending to tie the ribbon in front at the split in the overskirt.

2. Embroidery
I thought a little bit of ribbon embroidery would add some interest to the gown. I started with the hem. I matched it to where the overskirt raises in front. I went for a very pastel look, using a pale green for the leaves, white silk ribbon for the flowers and white embroidery thread for some knots and to attach some pale yellow beads. To continue it up the gown, I added the embroidery onto the bodice as well, in a very small patch on the left hand side. 

While I didn't really do a lot of work to the gown, I am pleased with how it has turned out. And it makes for another gown ready to go for this year's Jane Austen Festival.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A robe

What did I say, they are all finally coming together. And pretty good timing too. JAFA is now only two and a half weeks away. I try not to dwell on that fact, but I am at least getting things done. This time, it is my open robe that has come to completion.

This is to be worn over my long sleeve white regency gown. I had found a fashion plate that I adored, it was pretty sketchy, but in it, the woman is wearing a high-necked white gown (check) with a bright red short sleeved trained open robe and a turban. I just have to hem the edges of my turban fabric at this point, but otherwise we are ready to go. It's made out of linen. Again a 3.95/metre find. There were two options with my fabric choice. A plain cotton homespun in the exact colour that I wanted or the beautiful thin linen in an ugly red. I decided on the ugly red and some fabric dye.

I didn't think about it at the time, but it was most prudent because I ended up fitting the fabric onto the fabric very well because it was a wider fabric. As to the pattern itself, it did take quite a bit of tweaking. I wanted something similar to the open robe found in one of the Janet Arnold patterns of fashion books. Only I wasn't really in the mood to draft that up from the teeny grid and then have to resize to fit me. It just sounded like a hell of a lot of unnecessary work. Instead, I decided to draft it working from my Sense and Sensibility patterns. It only took me a couple drafts to get what I wanted. I was originally going to use the spencer pattern to draft it up, but it was a lot easier to go from the drawstring bodice pattern. 

Essentially, I have extended the pattern pieces to the length I wanted (yes, there is a train). I split the centre back panel down the centre and added in a heap of fabric so that it would have a very deep double pleat to add fullness, however this is only added from the upper back area - the last thing that I wanted was a lot of bulk in the centre back. I also added extra for pleating onto the side back seams of the back panel, to allow for pleating towards the back, again adding more fullness. The side seam was a bit trickier. I didn't want any pleats in place and having a straight seam meant that it was not full enough over the hip area. I ended up angling out the seam, basically adding in a long gore. This really added a good amount of fullness over the hip. Then there was the front. The Janet Arnold pattern has deep pleats from the shoulder - I tried it, but the amount of fabric that it added was negligible - it was a lot of extra work for something that I was not really liking, added bulk to the front and seemed rather pointless to me. So I scrapped that and just went for a very straight front.
I didn't take that long to put together, the main time-consuming pieces were the hem along the front and the bottom hem - and mostly because I had to hand-sew them. I was a little unsure of what I would be doing to close the bodice in front, but in the end, I just went with a couple of buttons. You could quite easily do hooks and eyes or buckles though. All in all though, it has come out rather like I wanted, and should go rather well with my white gown. I think this pattern is a bit of a winner, I may just have to make more of them. After all I know that I have a lovely printed floral in my stash.

It's a ball

I am slowly whittling down my list of JAFA items to make. It was a big and daunting task in the beginning, but I have been determined to get it done. And here we are, another one down. My ballgown.

It was the one gown that I was adamant had to be done. I felt so plain last year in my ballgown, so this year, I have put a heck of a lot more work into it and come up with something that I am supremely proud of. It has taken a lot of work and a heck of a lot more handsewing than I would have really liked. I have used four fabrics. The mauve satin is a synthetic that I picked up on sale (3.95/metre) at East Coast, however it has the same weight as silk satin and the texture is quite similar. Then there is the black flocked chiffon. Again synthetic, but on sale and it looks very similar to a lot of fabrics that I have spotted in extent gowns. The final two are the lining of black cotton voile and the quilting - a bamboo quilting which is a hell of a lot nicer to use than some of those awful synthetic ones on the market.

To start with, there were the sleeves. They were the first thing that I tackled. I did post a little about them previously, but they are basically made up of three components. The first being the mauve satin pointed arm band. The pieces are flat lined with cotton voile and some black satin piping is sewn to the upper edge and then tacked down on the underside to hold in place. (I'll be honest, I didn't make my piping). Then comes the chiffon overlay. The corresponding points are gathered up and sewn (by hand) to the points on the arm band with a back stitch. I then whipped it all down on the inside (again by hand) to make sure that it would hold in place securely and hopefully not fray apart. I then attached the sleeve lining (satin with cotton voile lining to the wrong side) with black sating piping on the bottom. I then stab stitched the points of the outer sleeve through all layer to the inside to make sure that they would not slip out of place. Then it was simply a matter of gathering the top of the satin piece and chiffon piece and inserting them into the armhole.

The next step was putting the bodice together. I back stitched the gathers in place on the shoulders where the chiffon gathers over the satin. The next step was to dart the satin fabric to fit me wearing says. The chiffon was then gathered into place loosely along the neck edge and the lining was stitched together. I then stab stitched through the layers to add a thin cord tie along the neck. This is where the sleeves were added to the bodice. The next step was to sew all the skirts together and join them onto the bodice. The chiffon layer of the bodice is gathered tightly in the centre while the back is gathered evenly. I stitched a cotton voile bias in the seam. The bias is then folded up towards the bodice to encase the seam and allow for another tie. Again, I stab stitched this down.  
Then came the hemming. My mother kindly lent herself to pinning up the length of the satin underskirt. I then sat down with a heap of pins and pinned in place a 10cm(ish) piece of the bamboo wadding in the hem. I doubled it up so that it would be a little fuller than just one single layer. It took a lot of pinning and re-pinning to get the wadding sitting smoothly. Next was to stitch it in place. A running stab stitch in two rows accomplished this. Then it was time to hem the chiffon. I was going to do it by hand, but it was really driving me insane with the slipping, so instead I decided to do a fine rolled zig-zag hem. 
And finally, I added a couple of hooks and eyes on the back of the bodice. I was only going to rely on the ties at the top and bottom but because the cord is rather slippery, this was not working. It was simply a matter of adding some black hooks and some thread eyes and it is much more securely held in place now. All I have left now for this ensemble is the reticule and the hair garniture. I have to say, after all the work I have put in, I am really looking forward to wearing this now. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Imagine my shock...

Yesterday. Tuesday. Very eventful. I got off work early for an appointment, and on my way home, thought that I would stop at the local Toyworld in the hopes of finding an appropriate weapon for my stargate costume. Only, Toyworld is no longer there. Imagine my shock.

At any rate, I pulled the car up and thought that I would have a look in the shop next door that had a whole heap of cane furniture in the window and a 50% off sale. I am currently in the process of looking for a cane or wicker chest for re-enacting. No such luck on the chest. I did however, come home with a chair. A Roman chair. Perfect for my regency reenactment. And yes, it was 50% off as well. I am so pleased with my purchase. So, I thought that I would share. So happy. Now I actually have a seat of my very own for re-enacting.
If anyone in Brisbane is interested, they have 1 more single seater and 2 double seaters in the shop (well they did as of yesterday). How to find them. "The Decorator's Emporium" 825 Zillmere Road Aspley. It's in the Aspley homemaker centre across from the light shop. This is the complex that houses Lone Star and Red Rooster off Gympie Road.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bluest of blue

It was a very productive weekend. I spent an inordinate amount of time with my needle and thread trying to get on track with my handsewing. Right to the point that I am almost complete on another of my projects, but more on that later. This is about my blue half robe. This project turned out to be one of those extra ones that I had not originally intended to do, but I got thinking about how JAFA is held in Canberra in April and it can get mightily cold. This turned my mind to the fact that I would be wearing my white muslin dress one of the days. And now while I love the dress, it was really made for wear in Brisbane come the height of spring and summer weather.

To push my thinking a little further, I was tracing off a few other patterns, and decided to flip through one of my fashion plate books. Low and behold is a picture of a woman with a lovely little half robe. My mind turned to the blue cashmere (fake cashmere) that I had sitting in my stash. I said to myself "self, that would make a fabulous half robe - both warm and quick to whip up. So, I drew up the pattern, mocked it up, tweaked it a bit more, cut it out and got set on the sewing. The pattern itself is very simple. I based it off the Sense and Sensibility spencer pattern. The main changes that I made was the length. I added a seam in the centre back of the jacket so that I could allow for a pleat which would add fullness enough to go over my body. The side seams are also flared out a bit to accommodate a bit more room and instead of extending the darts in the front (I did try it on the mock up), I decided to go for a couple of 1 inch deep pleats. The hem also differs a little - as in, it is shorter in the front, and curves slightly so that it is longer at the back. I hadn't originally intended to do this to the robe, but made a last minute decision when I was drafting. 

All I had left for the weekend gone, was sewing the lining in place, hemming the sleeves, stab stitching the front pleats and attaching the buckle. Please bear in mind that it is sitting a little oddly on my mannequin because of her modern (1940s) shape boobs, and not where my regency bodice will be holding everything. It went together very quickly which was nice. I also decided to add the collar at the last minute. I had it almost ready to go with the lining, but thought that it just needed a little extra at the neck. I'm very pleased at how it has come out and glad that I put the time in to draft the pattern and make it up. I definitely will not be getting cold wearing this one. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paint the town red

And the main part of this costume is now complete. I'm not 100% sure that I have the pattern correct, but there was a lot of leniency for the gown as there seem to be a lot of different styles. I went for something that would be both flattering for me as well as in keeping with the gowns on the show. It ended up being a mix. From my research there also seems to be different gowns for normal wear as compared to the gowns for battle. As in, the battle gowns have gores in the skirt running to the hip to allow for leg movement. It seemed most practical to go this way with my gown. (The photos haven't really worked because the red is so hard to photograph at night time. I swear it looks great in person.) 

As for the pattern, it was made by draping a similar weight fabric on my mannequin. It took me a couple goes to get the front split correct and the armhole splits in place. Not to mention the fold over and sleeve draping. In the end, it turned out to be a very simple T shape pattern that has a small amount of waist shaping and triangle gores sewn into the side seams from the hem to the hip. I'm rather pleased with how it turned out, and am even going to finish the mock up of the dress at a later date to wear as a dress. Of course, the belts help pull it in, in the correct places for a little more fitting through the waist and hips.

To finish it all off, all I had to do was make the headpiece. It took a few attempts to get the tying correct but it's really just a turban with a length of fabric tucked in the back. I used two different fabrics to make it. The main turban part is made of lycra into a scullcap sort of shape. The second piece is a lightweight crinkle chiffon (almost a silk chiffon weight) that is tucked in half at the back. The top piece can then be flipped over the face. I also bought a new long brown wig to wear under it all, as my hair is currently at that in-between length (that I really hate).

Now that the clothing is completely ready, I needed consider accessories. Ideally I would love to have a triquatra weapon that the sisters throw, but I am not sure if I have the ability or time to make one. So instead, I went for a lantern (which they are seen carrying when you first meet them). I managed to find a very similar one on ebay for a very respectable price and best of all, it arrived within two days of purchase. 
And as a final, I just need to purchase some belts, and trim my wig. Hopefully this can happen this week.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Now, this is not strictly a part of the original sister of the dark costume. I'm sure that those slender women did not wear corsets underneath their gowns. Me though, I decided that I would like something that controls my curves a little better as well as providing some good bust uplift. And that has led me to a corset. I have made it using the good old 5006 Simplicity pattern that most of my costume friends have used.

I have to say though, it took quite a bit of adjustment to get it to where it is now. Unfortunately there is an extreme amount of bust allowance in the pattern. It made for a lot of fiddling on my part to take it in. It probably didn't help that I was changing the bust line slightly too, dipping it down in the centre more. I also wanted my bust to sit nicely in it with a decent amount of lift. The other change I ended up having to make was to the length. While the front was fine, it was way too short over the hip and in the back. Again, more fiddling. In the end it took me three mock ups to get to where I am now. But I think it was well worth the effort, because I am inordinately pleased with how this has come out.

Of course, it really helps me love it more when the outer layer is made of dupion silk and the inner layer is some lovely hear print cotton that I had left over from another project. For some reason it just seemed appropriate. At any rate, this was probably the most time consuming part of putting this costume together and I think that it has really come out well. The next step is the dress and headpiece. But otherwise, we are done.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I am now in the final countdown to Brisbane Supanova. It starts on Friday 1st April, so I need to have all my costumes ready to go by then. I'm really starting to get nervous with the amount of work I still have to do to finalise everything. I've got my costume list all set out so that I know what I need to make, but it feels like it is taking me an age to cross things off. At any rate, the first one that I will be wearing is my Stargate uniform. So I am trying to focus on it first.

I got a couple more additions to my stargate uniform, just in my slackness have forgotten to post about them.


My patches came from here: The seller also has a really wide range, so you don't have to be SG1. And they are screen accurate - not to mention if you are doing any other of the stargate uniforms, the patches are also available. My brother chose for us to be SG23 because it is a prime number. As a side note, they happen to have an awful lot of patches from other movies and TV shows. Oh, and they cost at around the $9 mark. The only thing that you will need to do is attach velcro to the back of the patches so that they are removable from the uniform jacket. Which leads to...

The advantage of attaching velcro to the back of your patches is that you can easily change the costume without having to do any sewing. I was going to order my velcro from the same place as the patches, but instead found a much cheaper option. And to top it off, you can order them in many different colours and sizes. Go here: And as you can see I have now affixed the velcro to the patches. It was really just a matter of some ironing, but I kind of just put it off as a last minute thing. 

Generally in the show, they use a particularly fancy Casio watch, however they are priced around the $200 mark. I just could not bring myself to spend that sort of money on a watch for a costume, especially considering that I generally don't wear watches. At any rate, I found a casio watch that looks kind of similar on ebay for about $20. A lot friendlier to my budget, especially considering how much this costume has cost all up. I won't go into it, but I can tell you now that it really hasn't been cheap. I had best be looking to make the rest of my costumes for the year from stash fabric. 

A ghosty sort of night

I've been so busy (and rather tired) this week gone, that I have been quite slack about uploading my photos. Last Sunday night, I made my way into the great big city of Brisbane (where I schlep to work every day) to take a Ghost Tour with the Brisbane ACG. We were a little restricted in our costumes as it had to be of a historical nature but I took it as an opportunity to re-wear one of my bustle gowns that does not get to see the light of day often enough. It was nice to be out in costume again with this being my first event of the year.

I didn't take any shots of the locations but we were taken to a lot of the old buildings around the city. Due to the nature of Brisbane's foundation (as a penal colony) there were quite a few gruesome stories of the early years and the ghosts that are said to walk the city. I found it very interesting to learn a few snipits of history. And isn't it just that way, you live somewhere for years, but generally it's not until you move away that you realise you never checked out the biggest tourist places. I mean, I was born and lived in Mackay for years with the Great Barrier Reef just a couple hours trip away, and yet I didn't see it until we had moved away and then returned on a holiday to visit family. I'm thinking now that I might make it my mission to see more of Brisbane. Do the touristry things that I would never think of doing normally. That is, if I can fit it into my busy costuming schedule. And let me tell you, it is just starting to amp up now.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The picnic gown

And the next one. My late Georgian picnic gown. The clothing itself is now done. It's all pretty simple. It was actually the fabric that I found first. I was on a bit of a shopping expedition with my Mum and Cousin and I spotted it in the quilting section. I fell in love and thought immediately to get some. It was the bodice fabric that I found first, and unfortunately there really wasn't that much of it left on the roll. Luckily enough, there was a matching plain. Both pieces of fabric have a paisley Jacquard woven in which shows up in different lights. And actually, my first thought on finding that fabric was to go with a jacket and skirt ensemble. So here we have it. The jacket was put together by using to different patterns, both from JP Ryan. One was the carraco jacket pattern and the other, the robe al anglaise. There was a lot of guess work going on as to how the back would sit, but I knew that I wanted it pretty full and to have a x2 ruffle. Thankfully, my mock up came out perfectly, so I was ready to get onto the bodice. 
It all came together nicely and then sat for a while waiting for me to try on my stays so that I could work out where the centre front would sit and the button overlaps. That done, I inserted some boning with a tiny running back stitch and stitched up the lining. The hardest decision that I had to make was the buttons. I had some lovely coconut ones in my stash that would be neat but just weren't the right colour for what I was after. I dug through my silk stash and came up with my leftover sherbert orange pieces. (I have used this colour so much - regency gown, bustle gown) The colour matched rather perfectly with the spray of flowers, so I handed over some buttons to my mum for covering (I have tried and failed to do it myself!). It was just then a matter of finishing off with some button holes and a little button sewing. 
As for the skirt, it was really the simpler part of the two. Though I did stuff up the maths. The skirt is very simple, it's six panels of fabric (my fabric cut in half down the centre), and then a ruffle of fabric on the bottom. In all my adding up, I somehow managed to forget the hem allowance. The skirt has a thin waistband on the top and is made in the style of Georgian skirts with two side seam splits and ties that do up around the waist. As for the hem, since I didn't have enough fabric left over, I went through my stash and dug out some leftovers to make a facing. I then just used a very thin seam to stitch the facing to the hem (it's doubled over for weight) and I finished it off by hand stitching the facing in place. It has actually worked rather well, because it gives the skirt some weight to hold it in place nicely. 
I'm pleased with how it has all come together, but now I really need to decide on a hat. I have bought a new wig to style for this dress, so I have yet to do that. But I just haven't made up my mind about what sort of hat I should have. I do know that I will be trimming it in the silk that I have leftover that matches my buttons and there will be some green and feathers on there, but other than that, my mind is blank. I must rectify that at some point.