Chapter 1 - The Skirt
It started off innocently enough with the skirt. A simply gathered floor length skirt of black, pleated fabric with three rows of lace.
I found the perfect fabric in an outlet store in Tempe, AZ. I momentarily taken aback by the fact that it was the wrong side of the fabric I was admiring, since close examination proved it would work. Only Robin will know the inside of her skirt is shiny, disco gold striped...
So in June of 2008, I whipped up the skirt. I discovered the fabric was little fragile while trying to mark the sewing lines for the lace trim with tailor's chalk, so I used blue painter's tape instead!
Hey, it worked great and the lace went on straight. The next month I saw Robin, and she tried on the skirt. A tightening of the waist and a small hem adjustment later, the skirt was done! Woo Hoo!
Chapter 2 - The Petticoat
The skirt wasn't poofy enough on it's own, and all the patterns I saw for petticoats were like hoop skirts from the Civil War. So I searched the interent and found a pattern for the Time Traveler's Petticoat.
The directions made perfect sense.... An A-line top section, with a double gathered tier, followed by another doubled tier. Basic gathering techniques. I could do this.
Well, here's a word to the wise... not everyone's behind is suitable for an A-Line... in trying the petticoat on the dress dummy, it got stuck on the hips and I couldn't budge it up or down.
The fabric was so tight around the dummy's hips that I couldn't even reach in to adjust the dummy so the petticoat would slide off. A fight ensued, and the dummy went down with a struggle!
Finally, cooler heads prevailed and the petticoat was rescued from the clutches of the evil dress dummy and enlarged to fit.
Eventually the petticoat was scrapped in favor of a beautiful three-tiered piece from an online formal wear shop. Much better choice!
Chapter 3 - The Cloak
During the visit in July of 2008, Robin and I set off on a mission to a fabric outlet in San Francisco.
First we found what we thought would be the perfect fabric for the headpiece. More on that later. Then we searched every rack and shelf in the place looking for a floral brown on black to make the cloak.
And damn if we didn't find some... in the upholstery section! "It a couch!" she said, but it was too close to what we needed to pass it up.
Considering that I had no pattern to work with, and just an idea, it turned out rather well, although at first the front was too pointy. Eventually, I unsewed part of the lining, turned it inside out and rounded off the pointy corners and it looks really awesome.
In the meantime, in January '09, in a fabric outlet in Phoenix, I came across brown on black burnout velvet, and I just had to try it out. So another cloak, this one wider and with more gathers, was born.
Word to the wise: Burnout velvet has to be lined, but STRETCH velvet and non-stretch lining material just don't go hand in hand. After much swearing and adjusting the cloak was done. Ugh.
The couch cloak looks better anyway.
Chapter 4- The Brooch
It seemed simple enough, make a brooch out of Sculpy clay and gold wire and hang beads from it. I bought all the parts before I left AZ. By the time I was ready to try making it, the parts were nowhere to be found and I had to get new stuff. Note: I later found the original bag of materials in my scanner box. WTF?
My first pin turned out to look like an alien head. That's when I got the brilliant idea that maybe our friend and artist Neil Baker would like to try it. Smartest move I'd made so far. His turned out brilliantly, it was the right shape and his hand painting was spectacular!
Chapter 5 - The Big Book
The Big Book is "Dressing a Galaxy", a gorgeous, coffee-table type book that is the holy tablet of Star Wars costuming. It cost $50 new, and is out of print, so new copies are running upwards of $100. Robin offered to send me hers to use, as long as I treated it as my own. Her words, not mine. I had visions of torn dust jackets, bent corners, and other nasty things, so I quickly searched the internet and found a used, already beat up copy for $27. LOL
Robin's book remained safely in her possession and I'm free to abuse mine as needed, like dragging it into Tandy Leather.
Chapter 6 - Distractions
Meanwhile, I have other projects to finish. I made a black cloak for Robin's friend Julie, and a new cloak for myself in time for the premier of "Clone Wars" in August '08.
I made leather tabards for Robin. I tried to fix the leather tabards for Robin. Then I made new leather tabards for Robin.
I made belt pouches for both Robin and Julie.
I made a holster for a local member of the Rebel Legion.
I made an X-Wing pilot costume for Grampy-Wan.
I took a two-week vacation to Montana.
I spent three weeks working on PR materials for the Rebel Legion for Phoenix Comic Con.
I moved to Montana.
I designed and made Robin a "summer" Jedi costume, complete with tunic, sleeveless cloak, belt, and pouches.
So sure, there were unavoidable delays in the process. But as summer 2009 rolled out, I had the skirt, petticoat, shirt, and two cloaks done.
Chapter 7 - The Shirt
It took Robin a long time and a lengthy search to find the right shirt, but she found the perfect one. Not without trial and error. First we tried a Danskin tight, which barely fit on the dress dummy for me to make the markings of where to sew the trim. The she sent me the perfect turtleneck. The trim went on easily, and I started to make the tucks in the center front... only to discover that I sewed on the side section instead of the center. I tried to pick out the stitches and tore a hole in the shirt.
Quickly I went online and ordered a replacement! Whew! And it turned out great. A bullet dodged.
Chapter 8 - The Leather
Well, this started innocently enough, too. I found a nice, lightweight piece of cow leather at Tandy, big enough to make Luminara's items and a lot of other things out of. It was a half a cow, I think, and not a small cow, either.
First I made the belts. Easy enough, I got precut strips and after closely examining a picture online, I got a bottle of mahogany dye. Oh, they were beautiful! However, in examining the Big Book, we discovered they are NOT mahogany, but dark brown.
So I had to strip off the finish and re-dye them Java Brown. They look spiffy, so it all turned out OK.
I had test fit the leather cuff to Robin's arm using tissue paper, and I cut a test piece for practice. My cutting and tooling were way off, so I sent it to her to try on. It was WAY too big!
After a phone call discussion on the size of her arm, and a new pattern drawn by Neil, I cut another piece, which I cut and pounded into the proper pattern, or so I thought. But when it came time to shade the background, I realized that two swirls that were suppose to meet in the middle didn't meet, leaving me no clear place to start the shading. I decided to finish it for practice, and poked a hole in one place that it didn't belong. So that became practice piece #2. Fortunately, this one fit.
And also fortunately, after seeing my clumsy attempts at dyeing the first practice piece, Neil offered to paint the leather for us. WOO HOO! I can dye solid colors, but painting is not my thing.
So... I cut two new wrist guards, altered Neil's pattern, and finished them off in a decent amount of time.
Now for the apron. I had a picture taken at an exhibit that I found online, and I blew it up in Photoshop and printed it out in grayscale. I marked the major lines on one side with a sharpie pen, and then scanned those pages in and flipped them to make each side symmetrical.
I made a beautiful traced pattern, cut the leather, transferred the markings and carved the lines all in one morning. I went from being totally unsure of myself to completely confident!
The next day I started the pounding, and after a momentary lapse of about 3 hours where I had the piece upside down, I finished it in a couple of days.
I shipped it off to Robin only to have her say, "Isn't is kind of small?" Well... yes, yes it was, when she held it up to the poofy skirt, it looked ridiculously small!
With the help of my scanner and Photoshop, I took my pattern and blew it up to 8 inches wide and printed it out again. Good proportions, and I made a new transfer sheet from it.
I cut a new piece of leather, and started over. First I stared at it on and off for two hours trying to see which end was the top... LOL
But in a week or so it was finished, and I shipped it off to her.
Halloween night I get a text message "you missed part of the shading on the apron LMAO"
Well, it's hard to chase two kids through the dark while trick or treating and text at the same time, so I replied back simply "crap".
But when it was returned to me, I finished it off properly, touched up a few spots and made sure everything was juuuuuust right.
Robin delivered the leather and dye to Neil personally, and when it was done it was bee-yooou-tiful, especially after I finished it off with Super Sheen finish. Shiny!
Chapter 9 - The Belt Buckles
One buckle came from Canada, and the other from Australia. The one from Australia was really a necklace, and almost got lost in the mail because the sender underpaid by fifteen cents...
One was too dark and the other too bright, she said... so I carried them into the hardware store to look for spray paint that was somewhere in the middle.
I sprayed them up, gave them some clear coat and thought they looked spiffy. Wrong! But once again, Neil came to our rescue and antiqued them to give them the bronze look they needed.
Chapter 10 - The Headpiece
Early on I had this crazy idea to use a bowl for the base of the headpiece, and I found a great one at the 99-cent store. Later I got a 1 foot piece of air tubing at Ace Hardware, and glued it to the top for the cross piece.
Using muslin, I test fit it on my daughter-in-law's head, and made a pattern for the fabric we'd bought in San Francisco. I had plenty of ribbon and braid from the outlet in Phoenix, so I was all set.
I cut the bowl in half, and hot-glued the air tubing to the bowl. I sewed the trimmings on the fabric, glued it to the bowl and Voila! A Luminara headpiece was born.
This is where I packed up all the parts and shipped them off to Robin, all except the leather. To her dismay, she discovered runs in the fabric on the front of the headpiece!
So, she packed the headpiece into a plastic bag and headed out to Joann fabrics to find some replacement fabric. She found the PERFECT wool fabric, a beautiful brown with the perfect texture.
She also went to Ace Hardware and bought glue. Upon returning home, she unpacked her treasures and while reaching into one bag she pulled out a 1-foot piece of air tubing.
"Why did I buy this?" she asked herself. And was about to put it in the stack of items for her plumber when she realized.... She'd pulled it off the headpiece!!! The whole framework just fell apart.
So, she sent that back to me along with the fabric, ribbon and trim.
This time, I got Grampy-Wan's help and he drilled holes in the bowl and used nuts and bolts to attach that air tubing. It's not going anywhere, he assures me.
I used muslin and made a new pattern, and after two tries I cut the wool.
I used some trimming that I had to make a test piece of trim, which I scanned and emailed to Robin, which made her laugh so hard she had to close her office door.
After a phone call, I made her a sample of all the embroidery stitched my sewing machine can do, and we decided on one. A new sample was made, and it was SHINY!
Then she decided she wanted gold thread on it, which she sent me right way, and she was right, it was super shiny.
I measured the lengths that needed to be trimmed, and started in on the front piece. I finished it and attached it to the fabric in one afternoon, taped it to the form and took a picture.
It was so puurrrty that we posted it on Facebook.
Then I stitched the black ribbon and the gold embroidery on the long piece, the one that trims the bottom of the veil. Then I began pinning it into place on the fabric and came up 4 inches short!!!!!!
So, there was a two-week delay until I could get to Joann's for more ribbon... Gluing it onto the bowl was nerve-wracking, and I tried to match "The Big Book" as best I could, but it just wasn't quite the look Robin wanted.
Neil, who has a more steady hand and more patience, did a little more gluing and gave it a look more like TCW Luminara, and it looks great!
Chapter 11 - The Makeup
Makeup was not my responsibility, but I have to relate the story of the Great Makeup Delivery...
After agonizing over color choices, Robin ordered the perfect shades of theatrical makeup and black and silver lipstick to complete the Luminara look. The company shipped it out to her via Fed Ex, who wouldn't deliver without a signature. So, she signed the delivery ticket and expected to find it on her front porch the next evening.
Well, the next night there was no package, but Fed Ex claims it was delivered. WonderCon, the planned debut of the costume, was coming up fast and she was without makeup... a series of panicked text messages followed, but lo and behold the next morning she found the package!!!! In the backyard.... WTF?
Chapter 12 - WonderCon 2010
THE GREAT COSTUME ROLL-OUT!
It went well. It was awesome. I wasn't even there and I thought it was awesome! Robin received much admiration and awe from total strangers... lol
The Luminara Era is done! Long live Luminara!