Category: Arts and Crafts

DIY Michonne Costume: Part 2

Aug
31
2016

Fan Expo is just around the corner again, and as usual I’m getting totally excited about my cosplay this year! I figured three years is way too long to post the part 2 I promised to my original blog post, but here it is. :D

I’ll be reusing my Michonne cosplay (thank goodness The Walking Dead is such a hit) for one day of the event, and going to test out my Storm cosplay for the rest (but that’s another post). My Michonne cosply was a hit when I wore it at conventions or Halloween. People actually thought I was the real Danai Guerra for a second while I was walking around the Fan Expo grounds in costume the last few years. ;) I had a lot of people at Fan Expo complimenting my Michonne costume and asking for photos. It was a great experience and proved that all the hard work I put into the detail was worth it.

A photo posted by Monique (@blaquecat) on

Now, I’m not one for measuring–I usually just eyeball things when I’m making crafts–so when I was creating the saya for the katana and Michonne trademark cloak from the second season of The Walking Dead, I just went with the flow. But if you want to try your hand at making your own Michonne costume this Halloween, here’s a list of materials and some basic instructions that you’ll need.

Cloak

  • Burlap (I picked up mine in a large, single package from Michael’s)
  • 2 metres of lining fabric (burlap is itchy!)
  • a brown shoelaces (for the neck string)
  • Glue gun
  • sewing machine (it’s going to be hard on your hand using a thick needle for the burlap)
DIY Michonne Hooded Cloak

My homemade hooded cloak inspired by The Walking Dead character, Michonne.

I looked online to find a suitable sewing pattern for my cloak. It was quite the task as I didn’t realize how many different versions there were out there. So I didn’t use a direct pattern (I loosely followed this outline though). I guestimated the general shape that I wanted my Michonne cloak to be, cut it out, stitched it together and prayed for the best!

I traced the outline for my cloak on the layered pieces of cloth and burlap and cut them both out (you’ll need a second piece of fabric besides the burlap, because it’s hella itchy). Using my heavy-duty needle on my sewing machine, I was able to sew all around the edges. When I got to the end, I made sure I left a 6-inch-long gap so that I was able to then pull the cloak through this hole and turn it inside out so that the seams didn’t show. Then I was able to neatly stitch that up and I was left with a neatly sewn cloak.

A close-up look of the two-tone cloak fabric

A close-up look of the two-tone cloak fabric that I sewed together, then flipped inside-out.

Reinforced stitching

I reinforced the stitching around the edges for a cleaner look.

At this point I tried it on. The hood part was tricky. It was way too big for my head so I ended up stitching a straight line at the peak of the hood (inside out), then when I flipped it back out the right way it fit me better, and not cover my entire face when it was on my head (meh… I guess measuring beforehand would’ve came in handy after all).

A makeshift fastener for my cloak

I had some leftover pieces of shoe-lacing that I used for the neck tie, so I stitched it to some fabric and then to the cloak.

When it came to the clasp to hold the hood around my face, I had to brainstorm what was best. The fabric was too thick to install the grommets I had, so I looped together and sewed some brown shoe laces to a small piece of fabric and attached it to the bottom front of the hood. My sewing needle actually broke when I was trying to sew everything together, so I hand-stitched this part. I was then able to lace the other shoelace in between to act as a fastener.

Me in my Michonne cosplay

Me in my Michonne cosplay (don’t I look like I’m gonna kick some zombie butt?)

Katana Saya/Scabbard

  • 2 large mailing tubes (to hold the foam sword)
  • 2 metres of white lacing
  • Heavy wire paperclips or keyring wires
  • a roll of brown duct tape
  • glue gun
  • some scraps of cardboard

Making this was fun! The foam sword I bought a couple years ago didn’t come with one, so I went on YouTube to see how they designed real katana scabbards or sayas (here’s another good one). I found some good, heavy-duty poster rolls that fit my fake sword perfectly.

Cardboard to form the saya/scabbard

I used a thick poster tube, sliced it lengthwise, then secured it with duct tape in order to form the saya for Michonne’s katana sword.

Since I had two separate tubes so that it would be long enough, I cut about 2 inches into the top of one of them just so I can collapse it a bit so that I could squeeze it into the other one, to make a continuous tube. I reinforced this gap with brown duct tape (which mimicked the leather on Michonne’s saya). I flattened the tube a bit to give it a cylinder shape. After that was done, I used some left over cardboard, cut out an oval shape and taped it to one end with the brown duct tape.

Neatly, I continued to wrap the length of the tube with the tape to make it seem like it had that “leatherish” feel, being sure to make sure the seal was strong, and lining what was visible of the open end a bit.

Wrapping the saya

It was actually pretty fun to lace this up.

Wrapping the saya with the white lacing (can be found at any fabric store… similar to shoe lacing) was fun to do. I found a cool site that shows how to do it properly (this YouTube video, and  is also helpful), so I just mimicked that, being sure to reinforce with some hot glue along the way.

As for the smaller lacing at the back of the saya, I just got some white yarn threads and hot glued them down to make it look like the “leather” was being sewn into.

The finished product!

The finished product!

The strap was easy. I found a brown belt at Value Village and just cut it in on the opposite side of the buckle. Using a heavy-duty paper clips, I MacGuyver-ed loops that would attach it to the saya, reinforcing heavily with duct tape.

Go figure that a year after I hand-made the saya for the katana, they started making affordable replicas for both. Oh, well!

And there you have it: A custom, DIY Michonne-inspired cloak and saya for all you Walking Dead fans! If you have any more questions, comments or even pics of your own Michonne cosplay, I’d love to hear from you. :)

The Best Orange is the New Black Halloween Group Costume!

Nov
01
2014

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love dressing up for Halloween. So when I enlisted some of my good friends by asking if they were in on donning a group costume of characters from the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black, I was totally excited about taking the reins.

Nexflix.com

Photo from Netflix.com

It’s kind of eerie that a lot of my friends actually look like characters from the show. I asked who was interested who they might want to play, others I assigned roles since they didn’t watch the show, but looked the part (half of our group never watched a single episode). After Googling the Clubcrawlers website looking for some interested Halloween parties that the group can attend on the big day, I ran across one that was being hosted by Fame Media at the prestigious Roy Thompson Hall in Downtown Toronto. Early bird tickets were only $20, right within my budget. Halloween Massacre here we come!

17 of my good friends donning prison garb on Halloween as characters from the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black.

17 of my good friends donning prison garb on Halloween as characters from the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black.

Luckily the wardrobe for Orange is the New Black is pretty simple: The first thing I knew we needed were the trademark tan-coloured scrubs that doubled as our prison uniform. My friends know that I’m a stickler for detail, so I purchased a bunch if scrub sets from Amazon for $20 each. As word spread of my group costume idea, more of my friends informed me that they wanted to be in on it, so I had to make another order, praying that it got shipped to my address in time for Halloween (just over a week). I ordered a single orange pair for “newbie” Piper, then used fabric paint to write “D.O.C.” at the back.

A photo posted by @blaquecat on

There was a total of  16 scrubs for the gang. With a few last minute character additions, we were up to 18 people with one week left to go ’til Halloween, so one of us managed to find a dye a white pair of scrubs she bought at Wal-Mart, and I managed to find another tan set at Value Village. Uniforms? Check!

  A photo posted by @blaquecat on

Next were the name badges. Luckily I found the perfect, basic template by a user on Deviant Art. The only thing I needed to do was add in the photo of each of the “inmates”. But that wasn’t enough for me. This group costume had to be perfect! After masking all the inmate photos in, I used Photoshop to give each tag a unique ID number. I also created staff ID badges for Officer George “Pornstache” Mendez and John Bennett, on the off chance that we could get a couple of our guys to play the part (no luck though). I printed them off at Staples in colour and on cardstock paper, picked up some heavy-duty name badge holders and alligator clips. Name badges? Done!

After countless emails trying to rally the group together and make sure they read up a bit of info on their assigned character, so that they got the right hair, accessories make-up and attitude, we were all set! We all donned black boots, and I was even impressed with three members of our group who actually found replica jackets that the Litchfield inmates wore when they went outside (it was super-chilly and rainy on Halloween). I even managed to get some decent grey, thermal tops from Old Navy to wear under our scrubs as we made our way through The Village that night (most of us were sweating on the dance floor from all the layers later on).

We got so many compliments on our costume from other Halloween revelers. Donning the trademarks bantu-knots that Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren wears (which had been my go-to hairstyle for the last 15 years, I’ll have you know), I got easily recognized as a character from the show. Once one member of our group was acknowledge, then people will turn their heads and excitedly identify our whole troupe. It’s a shame we were missing other notable members from the cast, like Red and Big Boo (but we did see some one dressed as her in The Village).

A photo posted by TMZ PHOTOS (@tmz_halloween) on

A photo posted by TMZ PHOTOS (@tmz_halloween) on

We got stopped for photo-ops constantly (now we know how celebrities feel)! We even made it on to a segment of CityTV news with a crew of Church Street party-goers in police costumes. I wish I could’ve brought my DSLR around, because my cell phone doesn’t take as nice photos at night/indoors. We did managed to get a few shots of most of us together which was cool.

Church Street was fun as usual. Amazing costumes and good vibes. It’s too bad it was cold and rainy, otherwise we would’ve spent more time there. The party at Roy Thompson Hall was amazing! Great music, amazing venue, nice people and I love seeing every guest in costume.

All the planning paid off. My friends had so much fun, which is what I wanted to do for all of us. It’s too bad we didn’t know of any costume contests going on, otherwise we would definitely have won (then have to fight over splitting the prize 18 ways. We just might hold on to these costumes for another event. Best Halloween ever (so far)!

So what do you think of our costumes? Did we nail it or what?

A big shout out goes to Sophia, Pennsatucky, Daya, Tricia, Alex, Poussey, Vee, Morello, Nicky, Taystee, Janae, Brook, Aleida, Flaka, Black Cindy, Maria and my dandelion, Piper! :-D

 

Paint Nite Toronto: Picasso’s in the building!

Nov
09
2013

Last week I took part in my very first Paint Nite event! You may have seen their discounted voucher offers floating around sites like Groupon. I purchased a couple for myself for the discounted price of $25, which I figured was a great deal considering the regular advertised price is $45 + tax.

What is Paint Nite? Think of it as a big, painting party:

Paint Nite® is a new concept of blending two timeless pastimes, artistic painting and drinking cocktails, as a way to draw patrons into local pubs on a slow night with a unique opportunity to socialize and be creative… [It] is about making art accessible to people who don’t consider themselves artists or creative in any way… about fostering a fun, low stress, non-judgmental environment that inspires everyone to enjoy the process of creating something from nothing.

YouTube Preview Image

I was a bit apprehensive about going solo, but was reassured a bit when I read that people attend these events both alone or with friends (there were a few other solo attendees at the event I went to). Paint Nite currently has events in over 50 cities in North America. The Toronto ones seem to be happening on multiple nights each week at an array of different venues, so if you’re interested then you’re bound to find an event that fits your schedule and location.

There’s absolutely no experience required for attending these events (thank goodness). I haven’t really painted before (except for a few short workshops at school), even though I own a wide range of paint supplies (that are about to be dusted off).

You register through the Paint Nite website. Each Paint Nite that’s offered has the name of the artist instructor, a photo of the painting that an artist will walk you through, a difficulty scale, as well as the location of the neighborhood restaurant or lounge in which the event will take place.

The event that I went to, “Safari Sunset”, took place at Allycatz. I found the 6:00 timeslot good for an after-work activity. Allycatz is a good venue to host Paint Nite, as the raised “stage” area was good for the artist to showcase all the steps to the painting. Though, I felt the seats were a little close together (I almost got poked in eye by a paintbrush by one of the people sitting beside me, and a couple wine glasses almost toppled over). Co-Organizer Nathan Schonberger and artist Basil Hendy greeted all of us eager painters as we walked in.

Each of the 32 stations were laid out neatly, complete with a 16″x20″ canvas, a styrofoam plate with 4 basic colours of acrylic paint that were needed to complete the artwork (red, yellow, black and white), an apron, brushes of three different sizes and a cup of water (for cleaning your brushes, not drinking… though I bet someone made that mistake before).

Everyone in attendance though was upbeat. You can sense the excitement as everyone wanted to complete their own masterpieces. The instructions were broken down by well-paced steps that were fairly easy to follow. There were some moments of frustration by a few who couldn’t get the shape of the elephant right (at first mine started to look like one of the walker vehicles from Star Wars), but Basil was extremely helpful and positive in his delivery of the painting instructions.

The evening lasted a little over 2 hours. My painting dried fairly quickly so that I could take it home right after the event. I was impressed with my final masterpiece (though I thought the tree came out a little strange so I tried to add to it when I got home… I also realized I initially forgot to add a tail to the baby elephant, so I fixed that as well). Signing my painting was probably the most difficult part (added a little water to the white paint to thin it out so that it was more fluid for my signature), so I ended up just shortening my name!

My first Paint Nite masterpiece, titled "Safari Sunset" (instructor Basil Hendy).

My first Paint Nite masterpiece, titled “Safari Sunset” (instructor Basil Hendy).

If you ever wanted to try your hand at painting, or just up for a fun, but different, night out with a group of friends, Paint Nite should definitely be an option. Best of all, you’ll leave with a cool painting you can hang in your home (or give to your mother to put on the fridge, like in your childhood days). I’m looking forward to creating my next work of art! Maybe next time I’ll actually buy a drink and see how my canvas turns out.

 

DIY Michonne Costume: Part 1

Oct
29
2013

Last summer one of my friends told me, “You remind me of this girl on this show called The Walking Dead”. I was thinking, “Preposterous… There aren’t any fierce, black actresses on TV that could mimic my reserved, often misinterpreted scowling demeanor!”

I was mistaken. A few months later when I finally watched a full episode of The Walking Dead, I thought, “Yup. That’s pretty much me.” (minus the prowess for slicing up zombies with a katana). Such badass of a female character!

After getting caught up this past September on the entire series on AMC via a television marathon, I decided I was going to dress up as Michonne (played by the beautiful Danai Gurira) for Halloween, and most likely recylcle the costume for the upcoming Comic Con and Fan Expo (there’s only so many times I can wear my handmade Star Trek outfit).

Michonne doing what she does best (photo from entertainmentfuse.com)

Michonne doing what she does best (photo from entertainmentfuse.com)

When I googled the Michonne character online, I realized something: I already own every piece of clothing the character wears (not surprising coming from a self-professed shop-a-holic). From the tight, grey cargo pants (Guess, courtesy of the Bay), to the purple tank top (I knew buying all those tank tops in every single colour when they were on sale for $1 would come in handy), to the boots (Payless, I have big feet), and even the freakin’ headband (matches exactly… I think I picked this up from a black hair store years ago).

The only thing missing was a brown, rivited belt ($3.99 at Value Village), the fingerless gloves ($5 from eBay), and her brown leather vest (this was the only thing I splurged on because it was so hard to find… I don’t even want to mention how much I paid for it. Hopefully, I’ll get invited to some biker parties over the next year).

When it comes to Halloween, I like being as detailed as possible with my costumes. I even purchased “official” iron on patches for my Star Trek and NYPD Police Officer for previous years.

DIY Michonne Costume

I think I got close enough to match the Michonne character (I got some good responses from a Halloween party I went to last Saturday, and that was before my vest arrived in the mail).

Michonne’s trademark katana sword also took a little work to find. Sure I could of used one of those $10 samauri swords they sold in the Halloween shop, but they’re often really short, and didn’t have the nice detailing that Michonne’s sword has.

Don’t worry, I didn’t shell out $350 for the official Michonne replica katana. That would be overkill (but if anyone wants to buy me that for Christmas this year, it would look lovely mounted on my wall).

Spirit Halloween added some new The Walking Dead merchandise this year. Included was a Michonne wig (complete with headband), and the katana sword ($19.99, but cheaply made, because some of the silver paint at the tip started coming off of the foam… good thing I have a silver sharpie). Luckily I called and had them put it on hold, because it was the last one (and this was weeks ago).

I’ve left my natural hair in my havana twists since last month, because I wanted the “dreadlocks” look. So no need for the wig (which doesn’t look too realistic anyways).

Unfortunately the katana didn’t come with a sheath/saya. So I made my own! This was actually a fun DIY project. The final results were pretty good.

All the materials I used to recreate Michonne's katana: poster tubing, white trimming, brown belt, brown duct tape, glue gun and scissors. I also used an old lanyard ring and a bent paper clip for the fasteners, as well as some yarn to recreate the detail on the saya.

All the materials I used to recreate Michonne’s katana: poster tubing, white trimming, brown belt, brown duct tape, glue gun and scissors. I also used an old lanyard ring and a bent paper clip for the fasteners, as well as some yarn to recreate the detail on the saya.

I used two poster mailer tubes (paper towel roles would have been a second option, but a little too light), brown duct tape (to mimic the leather), 4 metres of white trimming ($2.50 from Fabricland), and a brown, leather belt ($1.99 from Value Village). A pair of scissors and my trusty glue gun sealed the project.

The finished product!

The finished product!

But wait… There’s more!

Best character entrance in a season finale? A hooded Michonne walking in and saving Andrea with her two zombie pets in tow! Now I couldn’t track down two guy friends who would be shackled to me on Halloween, so sewing the hooded cloak would have to be the finishing touch for my costume.

I bought some brown fabric from Value Village for $5.99 (it was actually an old curtain), got some burlap from Michael’s (1.8 metres for $6.00). I’m not an expert sewer, but I did my best. I didn’t use a pattern, because I procrastinated enough and sewed it the day before the Halloween party. But sectioning it into 4 parts, lining the burlap, and then sewing it all together, it fit pretty well. I even made a makeshift fastener for the neck with shoelace!

My homemade hooded cloak inspired by The Walking Dead character, Michonne.

My homemade hooded cloak inspired by The Walking Dead character, Michonne.

I’ll try to post how-to articles later on next month for both the saya and the hooded cloak.

In part two of this post, I’ll be posting a photo of my full costume and let you know of the reaction I got from the public.

Happy Halloween!


Read Part 2 of my Michonne cosplay.

Gettin’ Artsy…

Apr
21
2009

School is winding down for me, so of course that means that my procrastination is making its rounds.  One of my final projects include a creative way to display my professional development. Initially I chose to do a painting, but my art supplies were to big to lug back to Kingston with me from Toronto.  So as I was browsing Dollarama, I got inspired to make my own tribal mask (the “mask of teaching” if you will) after seeing some similar trinkets in the shop.  My idea was cemented (pun intended) when I noticed that Dollarama had natural modelling clay on sale for $1 (I would think they would bump up that price like they have with some other items in the store). So I picked up two packs, got some beads, paint brushes, paints and a pack of foam brushes and I was on my way.

I don’t think I ever worked with this type of clay since grade school, so my face lit up once I opened the package and got my hands in it. It was surprisingly easy to work with (as long as water was on hand), and I was able to make various shapes for all the facial features of my mask. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to dry, but it better be soon because I have to hand this project in by the beginning of next week.

I still have to decorate it of course, so once my mask is dry I’ll have loads of fun doing that. Yay for arts and crafts (and Dollarama)!