Day 40

I think I kind of did it!

I posted for 40 straight days, more or less, and am finally at the goalpost. I’ll probably add one last post tomorrow, since I… ahem… missed that one day. But then I’m going to switch to a more reasonable and sustainable posting schedule. I think this helped though. I’m definitely in the habit of writing more.

Since it’s also Shiba Sunday, here’s an adorable picture of my dog in her favorite spot on the couch.

Shiba trying to sleep

Something Old, Something New

Something borrowed, something… bright fluorescent red?  Yeah, that saying isn’t holding up.  

I started brainstorming how I was going to make the structure for my Carmilla project.  Namely, the undergarments. I’m trying for a historical-ish, Elizabethan style gown, so I’ll do the same for the underwear.  

I’d like to do a chemise and drawers, which are a little more Victorian than Elizabethan, but which would kill two birds with one stone.  One – those undergarments will help protect my probably-not-easily-washable gown from coming in direct contact with my skin, which will help the dress itself stay cleaner longer.  Two – I already have a chemise and drawers, made for a previous costume, so if I can reuse them, it would be awesome.  

The drawers are an easy reuse.  I made them for my Suiseiseki costume from Rozen Maiden, which I did as a historical, early Victorian/Civil War era gown.  I made them out of a heavy cotton fabric, so they’re machine washable on a gentle cycle.  Since the drawers were part of Suiseiseki’s costume, and she uses plant-based magic and has a kind of plant and flower theme to her, I added some lace trim with roses on it to the edges of the pant legs, and added a green ribbon into one of the trim pieces.  I can easily swap out the green ribbon to a red more suited to Carmilla. The flower lace is there to stay. I’m thinking that Carmilla would probably have been a Toreador if she existed in Vampire:The Masquerade, though, given her vanity about her appearance, so I’m okay with the roses being part of the theme.  

The chemise I have is… likely not going to work.  I’d love to reuse it since it matches the drawers in fabric and style, but with the neckline on Carmilla’s gown, it’s probably going to show.   I’m thinking I want some kind of front panel on the dress itself to make my life a little simpler and to allow me to wear some kind of corset under the dress, but I’d like that front panel to stop under my boobs so I can keep a better, more screen-accurate shape to the top of the dress.  I took a crack at designing a very specific chemise just for this dress, but it’s going to need the deepest of V-necks to work.  

A chemise and drawers on a dress form
The fanciest underwear I’ve ever made

Then, a corset.  I definitely want one.  I do not have the trim waistline of an undead royal, so I’m going to need some help in the form of steel boning.  Again, with that damn open front, I’m going to have to get creative with the design of any corsetry, but I think I can manage it.  I’m going to try to split the difference between an Elizabethan corset and a sort of fifties style shaping garment with cups. I’m going to need to do about ten mockups to get that right.  I’d also like to make a farthingale for the skirt. I don’t think a farthingale requires additional petticoats the way a Victorian cage crinoline needs them, but I need to do a little more research.  Elizabethan costumes aren’t really my area, and most of the costume reference books I own are based on Victorian era styles. Since the apocalypse is nigh, and all of the libraries are closed, I need to find some alternate research resources.  

Once again, I spent a little time doodling how I want things to look.  The little circles around the waist are points where I plan to tie the farthingale to the corset.  I have a pattern for the farthingale which will probably work just fine, but I’m likely going to need to pattern the corset and chemise myself.    

A sketch of costume undergarments
Yet another planning sketch

Designing For Confusion

I finally started looking at what making Carmilla’s costume is going to entail.  Her dress is going to be… challenging, to say the least. Her outfit defies both logic and physics in ways that only an anime dress can.  I’m willing to give this one a little more benefit of the doubt, as Carmilla is technically the ghost of a vampire who specializes in creating psychic illusions.  Since she’s got two types of undeath working for her, plus illusion magic, I suppose her clothes are allowed to be weirdly put together. But trying to make that work in reality is going to be entertaining.  

I also want to add a historic element to the dress.  Carmilla is very loosely based on a real person named Elizabeth Bathory, known as the Bloody Countess.  She lived during the late 1500’s and early 1600’s, and is alleged to be one of the most prolific woman serial killers in history.  The exact details are a little hard to sort out now given how long ago it was, but either she was a terrible murdered who tortured young women for fun, or her political rivals made up the story to assure she was locked in her castle and unable to protect her assets.  Bloodlust leans in hard to the first story, and made Carmilla, the Bloody Countess into a monster that even Dracula thought was excessive.  But given the vaguely historical reference for the character, I’ve decided to make Carmilla’s gown in a pseudo-Elizabethan era style.  I say pseudo-Elizabethan, because there are some decidedly not-historically-based aspects to her anime design. Namely the shoulder and hip guard pieces and the entirely open front of her gown.  Pretty sure that open section would have people of the Elizabethan era fainting on the spot at the sight of it.  

But the skirt shape and general style of the gown (minus the above issues) can probably be adapted to an Elizabethan design.  I took a crack at drawing what I want my gown to look like. I had to take a few liberties with the design, as there are not a lot of images of Carmilla available.  Even with my old school Bloodlust DVD, I couldn’t get more than a handful of screen captures of the dress, and none of the dress without the train… sleeve… thingy involved, which means you can’t ever see the back clearly.  

My sketch of Carmilla’s gown without the train, based on limited reference images and my own imagination

And the train… sleeve… thingy.  That is going to be a nightmare.  That’s one of those pieces that can exist when it’s drawn on paper, because it doesn’t need to make physical sense.  In reality, that is going to be an M.C. Escher like monstrosity. The train is definitely attached to the long sleeve section, but then the sleeves also behave kind of like a wrap draped down around Carmilla’s mid-back.  Which is also where the train starts, and is kind of tied into/bustled with the gown itself. Although, that also depends on which shot in the film I use as a reference, because it definitely changes from one scene to the next.  I drew a couple images to try to make sense of it, and I think I have a solid plan. The train/sleeve wrap will be two pieces, with a seam at the line where it hits the dress at mid-back. It’ll almost be like a cape folded over on itself, but with arm holes.  I’m sure that description makes no sense, but that’s why I made pictures.  

The logic defying sleeve train combo
The nightmare train from the side, still just as confusing

Doing the costume sketches helped me visualize some of the trickier details of the outfit, and gave me a chance to plan things like where seams are and how stuff will be attached.  I’m still going to have to do a lot of mocking up with muslin to figure out exactly how this beast is going to work, but before any of that, I need to figure out how the undergarments are going to work.  That’ll be a topic for tomorrow.

Exhausted Again

Dear god, I’m tired. The last few weeks have blended together into one big slog of days and I’m starting to just feel tired all the time. My husband and I had to check with each other to confirm that it was, in fact, Tuesday, and not some other random weekday. I actually made some costuming progress today on Carmilla, in the approximately ten minutes of free time I had today, and would really like to write about that. But I can barely keep my eyes open, so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Sweet Kitty

My cat has been especially affectionate over the last week. I’m not sure if she realizes that things are weird, thinks I must be really sick because I’ve been home so much lately, or is tuned into the fact that I’m kind of stressed. Either way, my normally mean and standoffish kitty has been laying in my lap on the couch every night for the last week. In fact, she’s laying on my lap right now as I type this.

My cat sleeping


And I missed a day. I knew it was bound to happen, especially once the apocalypse started. That doesn’t particularly make me feel better about it, but here we are. I was kind of bummed out about it earlier, but at this point in the day, I’ve come to terms with it. The point, after all, is to write more frequently, which I’m still doing. And post Easter, the once a day post thing isn’t going to keep happening anyway. It’s way too much. So, really, it’s fine. If there was a goal I was going to miss, that was the most arbitrary one I could get.