Vanessa/Ursula at Anime Boston!

Anime Boston was quite the experience! There was a surprisingly large contingent of Disney costumes, including several Ursulas, but the one comment I heard time and time again was “I’ve never seen anyone do Wedding Vanessa before!” Which, of course, was the point. My friend (dressed as Ariel) and I had tons of opportunities to pose for photos, and especially liked being able to pose with other Ursulas. Hopefully the people taking the pictures had as much fun as we did!

Ursula victory

Ursula Ariel

Ursula mirror movieUrsula Vanessa mirror

This last one is my favorite, simply because the fabulous Tom Catt and I got to recreate such a classic moment from the movie!

Now I guess I just need to figure out what to do with the dress– there’s no room for it in my closet, and I think I’ve about exhausted the possibilities in the tentacle skirt. I think I may just save the wedding dress part for my daughter to play dress-up with, and toss the tentacles. Unless anyone wants a tentacle skirt?

Things to remember for future conventions:

1. Being able to get into and out of a costume by oneself is a very important consideration when constructing one. I’ve been so used to having my husband around to zip me up and arrange my tentacles (there’s another phrase I never thought I’d say) that it was kind of difficult to zip myself up while trying to hold the dress in place. In the end I was just grateful that there was another girl in the bathroom who could zip the dress up for me.

2. If you’re going to wear false eyelashes, remember to bring the tube of adhesive with you in case of detachment. I ended up looking a little lopsided (at least from up close) about halfway through the day.

3. If you’re making a bag to carry, sew some side pockets or compartments into it– makes it a lot easier to quickly grab your camera or cash or whatever it is you’d rather not spend five minutes digging around in your bag for. And yes, the important stuff always migrates to the bottom…

4. Shoes with arch support! Especially if your costume keeps you from sitting down easily. Speaking of which…

5. Make sure you can sit down in your costume. Really, make sure you try it. I did okay on benches, but came perilously close to falling when I tried to sit in a chair and the weight of my skirt pushed the chair just far enough back that my butt almost missed it on the way down.

6. If you get someone to take pictures for you, make sure you check them before you decide you’ve got enough. I really could’ve used some better-angled shots of the whole outfit, or a picture in front of a window where I didn’t have to Photoshop out the giant orange crane growing out of my head… (can you see where I removed it in the top shot?)

In any case, I had a great time! Now for a short hiatus on sewing projects so I can put my craft room (i.e., the computer room that is currently full of thread snippets and stray pins) back in order before my next one!

Vanessa/Ursula Costume, Finally Done!

It’s finished! Here are pictures from just before I packed it up in the world’s largest garment bag to take to Anime Boston:

ursula done toy

ursula done glance ursula done mirror

Please ignore the mess in the background– I’ll get better shots when I go to Anime Boston next week. I really need to learn the best angles to shoot this outfit from so the tentacles show to good advantage.

Also, you know what’s scary? I have Tammy-Faye Baker levels of eye makeup on in these pictures– the biggest false eyelashes I could find, additional false lashes on the lower lid, black eyeliner, white eyeliner, the works. But it’s still not all that scary in pictures. And frighteningly enough, after about an hour of wearing the stuff it ceased to startle me in the mirror. This must be how people get used to wearing it every day…

Vanessa/Ursula Costume, Part IX: The Accessories

Ursula tiara movieursula movie shell

So, back to costumes… the dress is finally done, but there’s still plenty to do before the costume is completely finished.

First up is making the veil and headpiece. The veil in the movie actually looks to be opaque, but I don’t like the look of that so I ordered a 6′ long, single layer veil in ivory tulle on eBay for just under $6 (including shipping, which cost more than the veil). It came wrinkled, but nothing that a session in a steamy bathroom didn’t cure. It ended up being a hell of a lot longer than 6′, though, so I trimmed it to about 12″ off of the floor. This way it won’t get tangled in the tentacles, and no one will step on it.

The movie scenes showed that the headpiece was the same color as the ruffles on the dress, so I cut two tiara shapes out of a manila folder, one of them with tabs on the bottom edge (more on that later)– and covered them in fabric. To do that, I painted a thin layer of glue onto each cardstock piece, then smoothed the fabric over them. Once they were dry, I cut the fabric about 1/2″ from the edge of the cardstock (clipping the curves), folded it over, and glued it down on each piece. Then I sandwiched the pieces together, fabric on the outside, with hot glue. I also inserted two twist ties between the layers to help with stiffness, though in retrospect that wasn’t necessary.

vanessa veil copy

I folded the tabs at a right angle, bending the twist ties to help keep things in place, and used hot glue to attach them to the inside surface of a black headband so the tiara sat directly in front of it. I’d originally planned on gluing the tabs on top of the headband, but the extra 1/4″ in height makes the tiara sit unnaturally high on my head (and I don’t have poofy Disney princess hair to make it work), so I’m going with this instead. Then I just hot-glued the veil to the headband, right behind the tiara.

(UPDATE 3/25/15: after I tried on the veil I decided it wasn’t draping as well as it could have, so I stitched a 1/2″ strip of white horsehair braid into the hem to give it some body. Looks much better now.)

My original Ursula costume used a cardboard cutout painted to look like a golden shell for Ursula’s necklace, but for this costume I wanted to go with the real thing, so I sourced it out to Etsy. The shell came painted gold, and I touched up the shadows a bit with darker paint just to make them more visible from a distance. Here’s the before and after:

vanessa shell painted

It looks great and probably doesn’t cost much more than I’d have paid anyway for supplies. I did consider trying to find one of those recordable mini-chips that they put into greeting cards to record Ariel’s voice and play it back at appropriate times, but the chips are surprisingly bulky and wouldn’t fit inside the shell.

Finally, while there’s nothing like this in the movie I do need a bag to keep things in at the convention, particularly since I’ve had to forego pockets in the dress. I like to make bags from leftover dress fabric (helps the bag blend in to the skirt during photos), but my dress disaster took up almost all of my extra fabric in the repair. Luckily I put my patchworking skills (already honed from earlier) to good use on the scraps and managed to whip up a reasonably-sized drawstring bag to carry with me. It’s not gorgeous or anything, but it’ll do.

ursula bag

Hey, does this mean that I’m done? Like, DONE done? And with two weeks to spare! Amazing! Pictures of the whole outfit put together coming up soon…

Tips:

1. If you’re going to make something to attach to a headband, make sure that you cut it to fit your head, not just the band. Since the headband will be bent into a different shape when you’re wearing it, just tracing it as-is onto paper won’t give you the right curve.

2. When gluing fabric to things I like to use tacky glue rather than white glue. It’s stickier and less likely to bleed through. Also, I brush the glue onto the non-fabric surface and let it sit for a while to increase the stickiness before smoothing the fabric onto it. If you don’t do this step, the glue just soaks into the fabric and nothing sticks.

3. On the other hand, when you need a fast, strong bond, hot glue is definitely the way to go. I used it for all of the structural parts of the tiara. The only reason I didn’t use it for the fabric was because it’s too dimensional to get a smooth surface.

Vanessa/Ursula Costume, Part I: The Idea and the Gown

Ursula movie evil

It’s no secret that I love costumes, and not just at Halloween. Besides, you can never get really elaborate at Halloween because Halloween parties are always badly lit, full of drunk people, and extremely crowded (with the aforementioned drunk people). Who would bother with a fabulous costume, and more importantly, who would risk getting it ruined?

I learned this lesson back in grad school, when I wore a beautiful Regency-style ballgown to a Halloween party and promptly got white wine spilled on it (probably the least harmful thing that could’ve happened, but still not great). And I learned it again (guess I didn’t learn it all that well the first time) when I slaved for weeks on a fantastic Ursula costume, only to have it largely ignored or misunderstood at the party I went to that year. Seriously, someone asked me if I was supposed to be Marie Antoinette. MARIE ANTOINETTE.

Just for review, this is me as Ursula, the evil sea witch from The Little Mermaid:

halloween tanya

And this is Marie Antoinette:

marie_antoinette_after_elis

And while I don’t deny that we are both wearing white wigs and full-length skirts (and I guess hers could look slightly tentacle-y if you squinted really hard), it defies understanding to believe that the two costumes are in any other way similar. Seriously? Marie Antoinette? I mean, did the tentacles and giant shell necklace mean nothing? I just don’t get it…

Anyway, that aside, I really did love the costume, which i’d built on a black strapless bridesmaid’s dress and stuffed with styrofoam packing peanuts. And I didn’t have the heart to throw it away once the holiday was over, so I un-stuffed it and packed it away in a garment bag. Until I had the idea to do this*:

ursula still 1ursula still 2

ursula still 3ursula still 4

(well, maybe not that last stage). All I would need was a wedding gown to wear over the tentacles– if I cut the hem short, the tentacles would show underneath and I could be Vanessa just as she’s turning back into Ursula. Plus, I wouldn’t get a headache from wearing the white wig. So I started keeping an eye out for an appropriate dress (realizing, of course, that it would be a lot cheaper and easier to find an old wedding dress than to make one from scratch).

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