I am preparing costumes for Gaslight Gathering in San Diego in October, the theme is "All the Steamy Things That Go Bump In The Night" . Given this theme, I felt that the Dia de Muertos Plague outfit would be perfect. The picture to the left is the last time I wore the outfit and there were a few things I did not like. The first is that I have Dia de Muertos style skeleton leggings on, but my arms, hands and chest are bare (or covered in mesh only). So I decided to make a bodysuit/shirt that had integral gloves and a short turtle neck to reduce the amount of skin that shows. I bought some soft knit material and used a tight T shirt to make a pattern. I added a short standing collar to make the shirt a turtle neck and provide at least some neck coverage. I then traced my hands onto the knit and stitched around them to make gloves. I left lots of extra fabric at the top when stitching the hands. Once I knew the hands fit, I added a basic sleeve pattern to the top of the gloves. The sleeve and gloves were cut as one piece to minimize seams.
Once the shirt was sewn, it was time to paint. I wanted to mimic the style of the purchased leggings shown to the left. So I purchased fabric paints and cheap brushes from the local craft store and set to work painting the shirt. To keep the paint from sticking the front and back together, or sealing the hands shut, the hands are stuffed with latex gloves, the sleeves have plastic bags in them and the shirt was placed over cardboard. Painting on knits is really hard! The fabric stretches in odd ways that makes keeping the lines even almost impossible. However, overall I am pretty pleased with the way the shirt came out. The paint does crack a bit if you stretch the shirt too much, but I think it will work for at least a few wearings. Now to fix the shirt issue, since I was not happy with the previous shirt!
With the Poison doctor coat complete, it was time to add some accessories. I figured as a poison doctor, he should wander around dispensing poisons to people. To make the poisons portable, I got some used glass vials left over from my work and cleaned them thoroughly. While I loved the look of the glass vials, the caps were either grey plastic or white plastic and really really ugly. I decided to hide the caps with polymer clay. This is probably only my third project with polymer clay so I am pretty happy with how they came out.
Large bottles filled
The white caps were hard plastic and as long as I removed the soft inner
lining could be place directly into the oven. So I simply molded the
clay directly onto the caps. I tried to follow the plant theme, and used leaves, wood and vines as my inspiration for the polymer clay.
Largbe bottles from the top
Since the poisons referenced in the embroideries on the coat are both plants (hemlock, wolfbane, ect) and elixirs (Extract of wolfbane, Invisibility elixir, ect), I decided that some of the bottle should contain plant material and some should contain liquid. Since the larger bottle are much easier to fill, we filled them with assorted plant material from our yard. We then baked the plant material to dry it in the oven. Once the plant material was dried, we glued the tops onto the bottles to prevent any accidents.
The small bottles were then filled with liquid. In this case the liquid is distilled water with food coloring added. These bottles were also glued shut to prevent spills.
Small bottles from the top
Small bottles filled
The brown bottles had soft plastic stoppers that would not survive
baking, so I used a polymer clay cookie cutter to make some brown and
green leaves. Once the leaves were baked, I glued them to the top of
the bottles. As these bottles were dark, I did not put any contents
Once the bottles were ready, I used craft foam and tape to create leather holsters for the bottles. The idea was to make each holder unique to add some variety. Once the pattern was made, the leather was cut out, edged and stained. The staining was deliberately left streaky to go with the shady nature of a poison doctor. We also stained a belt blank with the same green stain to match and used a random gear belt blank we had lying around. Both holsters are entirely held together with rivets, entirely for aesthetic reasons. The holsters slip over the belt so the belt can be worn without them if needed.
Almost a year ago my husband and I made leather steampunk plague doctor masks and then wore them to a local convention called Steampunk Spectacular. I was very happy with how the masks came out, but always felt that we really needed outfits specific to the masks. I begun an outfit for myself based on the Dia de los Muertos skeletons to match the sugar skull mask, but had not begun an outfit for my husband. His mask reminds me of those Mr Yuk stickers that used to get stuck on poisonous stuff when I was a kid, so we decided he should be a poison doctor and provide poisons to people. To emphasize the poison tie, I decided to machine embroider the entire coat with poisons and evil elixir designs. I purchased the Apothescary and the Pretty Poison design packs from Urban threads and set to work embroidering the base black linen. The coat design was based off of Rasputin's black robe as the idea of a mad poison doctor also reminds me of Rasputin. To keep with the Mr. Yuk theme, all the embroideries were done in greens and golds. To give people an idea of how these designs come out, here are images of each design. Since each design was to be used multiple times, I altered the colors between runs, to give you an example. 'wolfbane' is shown twice, but once with an emphasis on yellow and once with an emphasis on green. All designs were used at least 3 times on the coat and the designs are 6-7 inches in their widest dimension.
Even with the embroidery machine, the embroideries took about 20 hours to complete, but I really love the detail and dimension they add. The embroideries were done on the cut out linen (edged with the serger to stabilize the fabric during embroidery) and were done with wash away stabilizer. Once the embroideries were complete, I washed the coat to remove the stabilizer to keep the coat from being too stuff. The coat is then lined with lime green cotton and edged with light green bias tape. Once the embroideries were done, the coat went together fairly quickly and I am overall pretty pleased with how it came out.