Sewing the Kung Fu Panda costumes. Lord Shen. Part 2 of 3.

This is a costume for Kung Fu Panda’s Lord Shen, albino peacock, evil genius and pretty swish in the sartorial stakes. In fact, it’s kind of obligatory for all evil characters to look impeccable  (struggling to resist impeckable pun there).  Last month I made three costumes for Magical Quests, a company that hosts events and plays, and this particular show was a children’s party based around Kung Fu Panda. The Master Shifu costume I made is over here.

Lord Shen

For reference here’s Lord Shen as he is in the film. Pretty impressive, right? I had to find a way to interpret this look within the time and performance constraints. Much like the Master Shifu and Snake headdresses, this was built around a tight-fitting lycra hood and one celebratory can of Polish lager, austerity times.

I look a bit like a novice nun in this picture. Almost.

Lord Shen

I added chiffon “feathers”, covering the head and down the neck and finally a crest of red and white feathers. The whole thing is secured by ties that join under the chin.

Lord Shen

I didn’t want to take it off. It sure made the daily “what the hell are you doing?” conversation with my hair easier.

Kung Fu Panda

The last part was a cape of white and red “feathers” which was worn over an existing gown. To make this I used white chiffon with a scalloped hem and layered red chiffon over the top. At one point the scallops looked a bit bosomy. Fun and disturbing but not exactly Scary Kung Fu Peacock.

I unboobed the hem and it was OK.

Kung Fu Panda

That cat’s always gotta be involved.

Lord Shen

Here’s my best Queen Victoria in negative pose.

Lord Shen

Truth be told, I’d never even seen Kung Fu Panda 2 before this came up. But peacocks? I’d seen plenty of those at university and that’s not even a euphemism. Sounds idyllic right?The little entitled bastards would crap everywhere and screech throughout exams and lectures all day long.  I didn’t even need to watch the film to know they had a nasty streak.

Thank you Master Shifu for taking these photos.

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Sewing the Kung Fu Panda Costumes. Master Shifu.

In early September I put together three costumes for a Kung Fu Panda themed event. These were for a Magical Quests, a theatrical event company, who were hosting a pretty elaborate children’s party and I had 8 days to design, source fabric and get them ready. It was bags of fun. This post is dedicated to Master Shifu, red panda and all round font of wisdom in the Kung Fu Panda series.

Master Shifu. Kung Fu Panda costume

For this outfit I made five pieces, the robe, belt, gloves, a tail and headpiece. I had a very patient fitting model, he was quite attached to the costume by the end of the process and very sad to see it go.

Master Shifu. Kung Fu Panda Costume

The headpiece was tight lycra hood covered in faux fur, it extended down the neck and tucked into the robe. The ears were the most time-consuming but once I’d figured out the shape I wanted, it came together easily.

The ears are a lycra base, covered in faux fur and stuffed with wadding. I inserted a piece of wire to hold the ear’s shape, taking care to secure the ends to avoid unintentional trepanning. The ears were then handstitched to the hood and finally, I covered the rest of the hood in faux fur. You can probably tell, I was pretty happy when it worked out. I didn’t really want to take it off.

I spent a lot of time looking at red pandas online. So sweet, so unconcerned with how they look because they are so damn cute.

Kung Fu Panda. Master Shifu

The gloves and tail were fun to make. I used cotton gardening gloves and covered them in faux fur. I considered making nails but I was unsure how much the performer wearing this would need to use his hands so I decided against it. One of the things the director of the show had stressed was the importance of not letting the illusion slip by making the gloves too short. I agree with her. I extended the gloves all the way up to the elbow, that way you won’t get a glimpse of skin up the sleeve and undo the red panda magic.

The tail tail attaches to a belt and I designed it so it could attach in different ways for later shows. I think I did more hoovering than actual sewing when it came to the tail! Faux fur, huh? My love for it only just outweighs my hatred of housework.

To make the robe I used a heavy cotton with highlights of gold at the cuffs and on the belt. Instead of using a pattern I traced round an existing men’s shirt and got stuck in. The robe has slits at the side seams, so walking is easier, and at the back to allow the tail some freedom, it wraps round and is secured with ties. Without the belt, it’s basically a glorified, Kung Fu-ified bathrobe. But, in context, it’s red panda appropriate attire.

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Action shots.

We had so much fun taking these photos.

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The Knitting and Stitching Show.

This evening I went to the Knitting and Stitching show. I have to admit when I first heard about it last year I assumed it’d all be tea cosies and rocking chairs, it wasn’t. The skills of knitting or stitching are something that I appreciate but it was just three words Knitting and Stitching Show put together. It just seemed so plainly descriptive and functional. I’m going to have to kick myself now for not going last year because I just spent 4 hours there and was one of the last to leave. The level of skill and creativity in Alexandra Palace tonight was incredible. It was awesome.

Here are some of my absolute favourite pieces and exhibitions.

Black Sheep, the Darker Side of Felt.

You probably guessed, all of these pieces are made of felt.

So much drama and pageantry in these Horst Couture garments. It was a tough choice but that red one really got to me. I love the tendrils.

Beautiful and unsettling animal headdresses by Barbara Keal.

Barbara Keal IMG_7760

Bear Skulls by Stephanie Metz.

These were an interesting conflict and slightly disturbing. They read as teddy bear skulls rather than real bears and they’re even complete with teeth. There’s a piece you’re permitted to touch and I was surprised to find they were really hard. There’s a constant readjustment of expectation that I really enjoyed.

Alas poor Yorick….etc..

Seven Deadly Sins by Rachel Olin. Guess which one this is.

Rachel Olin

Silkfelt. 

More felt and lots of vagina. I’m big on vagina soft sculpture, I mean I have my very own and I’ll get it out at any opportunity, so this was a standout favourite.

I had a really fun chat to Yulia Badian and she told me a little about some of her techniques behind this magic. The interior texture of the pieces on the left (the mini minges?) was created from a mould of s starfish. A lot of the work in this exhibition is based on the sea and sex. The merkins on the right and middle had me in stitches with names like “wedding night skin” and “salmon sushi skin”. Just watching other people react to this art was an experience in itself. Go and say hello to Yulia, you can’t miss her. Bright pink hair and really welcoming.

Felt vagina. I keep think about the words. Felt. Unfelt….etc ….stop laughing at the back!

Moving on to wool.

Denise Salway knitted an amazing Lord of The Rings coat, complete with Peter Jackson figure and Golem detail. I had a chat with her briefly and she was loads of fun. A very talented and creative individual.

There was so much beautiful inspiring artwork there I could write reams. It was all so inspiring that I can barely sit still. I just want an excuse to start making something, something huge, something I can get stuck into and work on and be totally consumed by.

My photos don’t really do these works justice so if you’re thinking of going, just go. There’s lots to keep you entertained and the atmosphere is fantastic and welcoming.

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Thanks Knitting and Stitching Show, I loved it so much, I’m going back on Saturday.

I’ve tried to credit the work as carefully as possible and I asked permission to take photographs but if, for any reason, I’ve made an error, let me know, I’ll happily fix it or remove an image.

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Recyling and upcycling. A striped jersey dress AKA “Ow, my eyes”

One of the first things I posted on here was the Drape Drape Asymmetrical Top. Apart from the binding, it’s a pretty quick, non-fiddly sew.

Drape Drape topIn retrospect, I might have cut it a bit too large but nevermind, I loved it and wore it to bits. About a year ago, I used up the rest of that striped jersey and made this dress.

Jersey Dress

 

After the love affair for that dress faded, I ended up upcycling the two and ending up with this.

Upcycled Jersey Dress

 

I was going to crop this so you couldn’t tell I was barefoot but it looked all wrong. I don’t wear shoes when I’m off duty. It makes it easier for me to step on nettles and upturned plugs and things.

Upcycled Jersey Dress

Seriously, nettles? Every year I forget they even exist and end up hopping round trying to remember what a dock leaf looks like so I can stop the stinging. Nettles. What kind of country has friendly spiders and vicious flora? My Australian brain struggles with this every year. Nettles, they’re like immobile spiders.

Upcycled Jersey Dress

 

Since the top part/bodice came from the dress above, the only tricky bit was finding a way to make the remaining fabric stretch to the skirt piece. I gave up on the idea of having the stripes going in any kind of harmonious direction and just let it happen. The only thing I wanted was an asymmetrical V at the front, like a yoke.  Of all the things I’ve made, this is one of the things I wear the most. I works in warmer weather, with tights, I don’t have to iron it or hand wash it or even iron it. And I think I’ve made it clear that I HATE IRONING.

Word  press tells me, via a little trophy icon, that this is my 2 year anniversary of keeping this blog. The Drape Drape top was the very first thing I wrote about in 2012, in the summer of 2013 I posted this mini dress and now, in 2014, there’s this.

Jack was impressed with the commitment to black and white stripes. Or shocked. Or maybe just hungry….

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Sewing the Sink The Pink Summer Ball Costumes. An overview of all the bits with video.

Sewing all these costumes for Sink the Pink’s Summer Ball was a blast. And this is the last installment for this gig, I swear. This was one of the biggest sewing projects I’ve ever had and one of the most fun. I still can’t quite believe it all happened. But it did.

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In a previous post I mentioned that context was the key to appreciating garments and creative work. So, in the spirit of contextualising what the hell I’ve been banging on about these past months, I’m adding youtube footage of the Sink the Pink Summer Ball. Enjoy, I did.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

Opening act, 6 harness and cube costumes for the dancers. They’re down the front at the beginning of the clip. Song – XR2 by MIA.

Same costumes. Song – Satin Sheets sung by Glynfamous. And look at that headdress by Ivan Dauriz.

And again, Britney Spears’ Slave For You. Be warned, big snake. Big, big snake. Not a euphemism (for once).

Moving on to the Goddess theme. 6 individual Goddess Costumes for the 6 dancers.

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Plus sequinned top and pants for AmyZing, centre front. And an extra cape (below) which I think was worn by Ness Abbot. Please note the McGyver Skillz I employed in creating “arms” for my tailor’s dummy

 

This one had lots of very dynamic choreography to consider. The guy centre front, in the Statue of Liberty headdress, is the choreographer Jonno Kitchens. He’s a talented, lovely and wickedly funny human who can teach pretty much anyone to dance in nosebleed heels. In fact, he put this costume together from bits of left over set.

Chester. Sweetheart.

Chester. Sweetheart.

If you’ve every thought about going to a Sink the Pink night, go. You’ll fit in because the whole concept of fitting in or being part of the “in crowd” is redundant. Just go. Turn up in a suit, in a graduation gown and mortarboard, in jeans and a t-shirt, in your pyjamas, in someone else’s pyjamas, whatever -wear it all at once if you feel like it. Just go, bring an open mind and an open heart and give yourself a chance to let go.

And if your shoes are falling off (like A Man to Pet’s) find me. I’ll probably be around and I’m bound to have something to patch them back together.

Too long didn’t read? Watch this.

 

More detailed posts over here if you can handle me banging on some more.

Harness costumes

Goddess Costumes

Ribbon Costume

Bubblegum pop costumes

Leopard print pvc (NSFW)

RocknRoll Cat remains unimpressed but he’s a tough critic so let’s disregard him for now.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball.

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Sewing the Sink the Pink Summer Ball. Part IV. Because if you’re going to wear a fake penis, gift-wrapping it is always a nice idea.

It’s not all sequins and harnesses in this sewing costumes gig you know. Sometimes it’s leopard print pvc, fringing and fake willies. It’s a drag show, what’d you expect? We’ll get to the genitalia in a minute. First, the bow, let’s not rush things, we’ve only just been introduced.

Xanadu inspired leopard print bow.

This was for Amy Zing, founding mother of Sink the Pink and all round sweetheart.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

It was a straightforward case of the chance to make a childhood dream a reality.  That reality involved wadding, fringe and pvc that left my hands gold and shiny like some kind of  reverse King Midas.

Back to the inspiration, do you remember Xanadu? Of course you do, if you need reminding have a look at this clip of the song All Over the World. At about 2:30 there’s a blonde woman hanging upside down from a clothes rail. She’s wearing a big yellow bow and hot pants. My 7-year-old self was impressed by her monkey bar skills but even more impressed by that outfit. I swore that when I was a grown up lady, THAT is what I would wear. All the time.

Go on, have a look at the clip. There’s even Gene Kelly on rollerskates.

I didn’t quite get the same look as Xanadu but I think Amy styled this out way beyond anything I’ve ever seen Olivia Newton-John in.

This was worn for the Gay Bar number at the Sink the Pink Summer Ball. It was beautiful, hilarious chaos.

Brace yourselves for a big fake willy.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

I warned you. Too bad you didn’t even get see all the boobs I cropped out, huh?  You’ve come this far, go on have some more pics. See if you can spot where the rest of the leopard print pvc ended up. But you’ll have to sing a long, you’ll pick up the lyrics pretty quickly.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

“You. I wanna take you to a gay bar. I wanna take you to a gay bar”.

At the gay bar.

Gay bar.

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

Gay bar. (there’s the rest of the leopard print!)

Superstar. At the gay bar.

 

 

Sink the Pink Summer Ball

Can you guess what happened next?

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Sewing the Kung Fu Panda Costumes. And loving every minute of it.

Everybody was Kung Fu Panda fighting, sewing fast as lightning.

In fact, it was a little bit frightening….especially seeing this in the kitchen

Kung Fu Panda.Yes, my flat is a mess but who cares when there’s so much fun to be had with faux fur and feathers.

Kung Fu Panda Costumes

It’s been brought to my attention that many of my pictures feature a can of Polish lager. Bugger your Mood Sewing network, come on with the sponsorship already Polish beer people. And also Mood or Minerva. I’m not above free fabric….gift horse, mouth. Foot in mouth etc.

Jessica, who is behind Magical Quests themed parties and events, asked if I could make three costumes for the Kung Fu Panda event she was hosting and I was so grateful for the opportunity. I ended up making Master Shifu, he’s the red panda above on the right, Lord Shen the evil albino peacock and Snake, there’s Jessica below as Snake.

Kung Fu Panda Costumes

A regular Saturday night.

 

All in all, these costumes took 8 days, that covers conception, sourcing fabric and construction. In reality, three of those days were consumed by my day job, teaching English at a university, and it was the end of a course so when I say 8 days, I don’t really mean 8 days. This truly was a case of Get the Fuck On With It. I’ll detail them in later posts but for now enjoy these pics of the costumes, I really enjoyed making them.

Thanks to the investement from the Olympics, we live near a pagoda. Perfect for Kung Fu photo shoots.

Master Shifu. Kung Fu Panda costume

 

Lord Shen headdress and cape.

 

Lord Shen. Kung Fu Panda costume

 

Snake looking a bit cobra with that neck extension.

 

Snake. Kung Fu Panda costume

 

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