Allon Book Series – Shannan Costume

6078727060_0b43ecd4fc_b Since today is Mother’s Day, rather than sharing the typical “I love my mom!” (which, obviously, I do), I thought I’d switch things up and share of the fun work my mom has done. Did you know she’s a published, legit author? True story! She has written screenplays for children’s television (Bravestarr, anyone?), historical fiction novels, and my personal favourite, an ongoing allegorical fantasy series called Allon.

A few years back, Mom asked me to create a tangible costume for one of the lead characters to accompany the artwork in publicity. For background on the character, Shannan is the female heroine from the first 4 books. From birth, she is destined to bring back the return of the mysterious Guardians and help Prince Ellis take his rightful place as ruler of Allon. She is a strong, but caring girl, wise beyond her years (and needs to be to deal with a young, hot-headed Ellis!) and an expert hunter. Her grandfather whisked her away upon her birth as she was marked for death by the Dark Way (Why, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to read the book!). As such, Shannan lives in the secluded forest of Dorgirith away from prying eyes and invasive questions.
IMG_0465This was actually my first attempt at creating a full costume from start to finish. But being the costume enthusiast I am, I was quick to take up the task. I knew that I wanted to make a movie-level costume (or as I like to say, a “Weta-level” costume, named for the illustrious Weta Workshop in New Zealand). This particular costume is from the beginning of the book where Shannan’s character is introduced. It a forester’s costume in basis, but with it being in the world of Allon, we tred to stay away from the cliched medieval look. The era of costume I designed for Allon is patterned roughly around the renaissance period, but with a fantasy aspect as well (as Allon is a fantasy world not unlike Middle Earth). Stealth and ease of movement in Shannan’s clothes  are essential. So I designed the costume to keep with a utilitarian fashion.

In the days to come, I will have links posted to behind-the-scenes posts of how each piece of the costume was created.

The Concept:

The Cowl:

The Undershirt:

The Jerkin:

The Sleeves:

The Bracers:

The Pants & Boots:

The Quiver & Belt:

The Pouch & Wineskin:

The Wig:

Then comes the icing on the cake – the photography. Lauren Athalia is one of the most top-notch photographers I’ve ever met. Not only does she know how to wield a camera to maximize the beauty of a naturally-lit scene, but also knows how to use that light to bring out the best qualities of her models. (I have a difficult time with photographers not lighting my face properly and thus my weak jawline becomes my undoing – i.e. my face and neck tend to appear to blend into one another in most photoshoots. I know when I look in the mirror I have a jaw! It’s probably a minor point to most, but Lauren managed to capture my usually elusive jawline on camera and I  couldn’t be happier.) I wanted to give both my mom and Lauren the best pictures I could and boy did I get them.
IMG_0367The really special treat with this photoshoot was that I had a co-star, and a four-legged one at that. One of Shannan’s companions in Allon is a wolf named Torin. Lauren has a knack for procuring incredible sets, props, and animals. So my co-star was a full-blooded Timberwolf named Breeze. Now Breeze is not a pet. I’m not sure about all the details, but she was a rescue. She was a bit skittish at first around us, as wolves usually are around strangers. It took about 30 minutes for her to warm up to me, but it wasn’t long before we started to call her Miss Kiss-n-Run, as she’d quickly lick my face off and then bolt away. I hate to sound cliched, but it was a dream come true for me to be playing alongside a real wolf. I’ve always had a deep loves for wolves. (I think one of the first jobs I ever wanted was to be a zoologist just so I could work with wolves. It was a sad sad day when they got rid of them at the Nashville Zoo.) But before I get sappy, here are Lauren’s beautiful photographs.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rey Cosplay – Construction Notes 1

Star Wars The Force Awakens Rey
To much glee, the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer debuted online a few weeks ago. After I recovered from turning into my 6-year-old-self drooling over X-wings, costume plans immediately started turning the wheels in my head. Rey’s costume has ‘me’ written all over it – from the resemblance to the actress (which, to me, makes it even funnier that I auditioned for her role (true story! I wrote a post about it here)), to the desert chic look of the outfit. Hellooooo weather-appropriate Dragoncon costume! Not to mention I can actually wear it with my injuries! A friend pointed out that I might be able to use her staff as a walking stick in between photo sessions, which will come in quite handy. Not to mention, this outfit looks like something I’d normally wear. In fact, I plan on ordering double the amount of fabric for this cosplay in order to make a second outfit designed for regular wear. What? So I’m predictable…

Since the trailer was released, I’ve been hard at work gathering every photo of Rey I could find and starting a thread on the Replica Prop Forum to document all of my findings (as well as bounce back and forth with other craftsmen and costumers). But I figure not everyone is on the RPF, so I’m going to document my cosplay progress here as well.

To start, since there are no references for the back of Rey’s costume (and until this morning, none of her side. But I drew this last night, so it looks like I was on target), I decided I’d do what I normally do and draw a costume turnaround.  (I love doing these. So challenging, yet therapeutic.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rey Costume TurnaroundRey1 Rey2 Rey3
Next up…fabric!

At the Star Wars Celebration convention in April, Rey’s costume was actually on exhibit, complete with a handy placard that listed the materials used. As well as the costume being on a white mannequin, it was easier to see that the fabrics are all natural colours rather than dirty white. So I’m thinking I’ll be getting either natural-coloured fabrics or tea-dyeing white fabrics and then distressing the heck of it all. I cannot WAIT for that part! Distressing is uber fun (and a surprising venue of stress relief).


Wrap dress – viscose
Head wrap – cotton
Top hemp and cotton jersey
Trousers silk
Backpack leather
Wrist cuff and belt – leather
Pouch canvas
Arm wraps – cotton
Gloves leather
Boots wool and leather
Staff 3D print

I ordered a few swatches from Dharma Trading. Some were right on the money, while others were a bit off. So for the sake of this post, I’ll just focus on the swatches that work.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Hemp Cotton Jersey
This fabric is SPOT ON for Rey’s undershirt. The Hemp-Cotton Jersey is  very soft and comfy.

This appears to be the right fabric for the wrap dress, though I’m still not 100% sure. However, when dyed, the fabric will become mostly opaque, so that’s a good thing. I’ll check around a few others places for viscose swatches and see what other blends might be out there.

Now it’s a matter of finding the rest of the fabric and patterns. I’ll probably order a few more swatches of the ones I already have to do some dye tests. So…tally ho!

Geek Couture – Vogue Loki


(Note: Another new section! On Wednesdays, I will be rolling out Geek Couture – a category of the blending of the fashion world and geekdom. To give you a better idea of what I mean, I thought I’d start off with one of my own creations…)

Shortly after the Avengers film came out, a friend suggested that, in no uncertain terms, I should do a female version of the title villain, Loki. After a few rounds of online research, I came to the conclusion that the only femme designs created at the time were cocktail dresses or short Lolita-esque frocks (not that I mind anyone wearing these sorts of things, mind you. The designs just didn’t quite jive in my head). Loki has a flair for theatrics, so I figured if everyone showed up somewhere in cocktail dresses, Loki would show up in a full-fledged gown. Why? Because she could. So I quickly sketched out a two-piece gown inspired by both the film and comic version of Loki. My representation is not as exact as I wanted to keep a high fashion element to it. Thus Vogue Loki was born.


The biggest deviation on this costume design was that I pulled from my experiences as a model and love for high fashion to craft an haute couture look. This ended up being the main influence for the photoshoot, to push it more towards looking like a magazine editorial.

IMG_9162IMG_9227IMG_9219IMG_9126 IMG_9156  IMG_9165   IMG_9279


Hair: My own hair simply blowdryed, brushing the hair back from the face then spraying the heck out of it for sheen and staying power.

Makeup: MAC makeup artist Aisha Daly did the honours. She did a mixture of black and green eyeshadows with green glitter eyeliner on the top and gold glitter eyeliner on the bottom, complete with false eyelashes and black glossy lipstick. (We also opted to go for a “no eyebrows” look, common on high fashion, but also because that is the look Female Loki in the comic sports!)

Dress: All one piece made by Angelica of Angelly Cosplay – (I designed it completely, but I can’t sew to save my life, so I left that in her much more capable and talented hands). The green fabric is 100% polyester made to look like silk dupioni (we used the wrong side because it had a nicer sheen to it). The skirt has 13 panels in it to give it that wide, flowing look. The black material is actually a polyurethane psuedo-leather skirt from the 80s we hacked up for the vest-like piece. On the shoulder, we put in a brass zipper from Hobby Lobby, pulled apart with separate strands on each shoulder.

Necklace and cuff: Forever 21

Tights: DKNY

Shoes: Aldo


Picture 1: Brownlee of RBC Image (
Pictures 2-6: Kyle McLaughlin (