Level 8:1 – Construct Suit

14 May

Eleanor Lamb screen shot

Cosplay can be very daunting when you don’t know how to sew or own a sewing machine. When we started working on our Bioshock 2 cosplay, we were banking on being able to purchase both of our suits and the modify them to fit our needs. Daniel found the suit for Subject Delta easily enough at a uniform surplus store but Eleanor Lamb’s suit gave us considerably more trouble.

The first thing we looked for was a work suit or coveralls for women. We thought that maybe we could have it altered to fit my short frame once we found it but, as it turns out, there aren’t a lot of coveralls made for short women and there are even fewer that come in white.

Our next thought was to search for a bio-hazard suit. Those come in white and there should be some that are made for the shorter folks in the world. Turns out, most of them are disposable and come in a one-size fits all variety.

Next, I started searching for catsuits which are defined as a one piece garment that covers the torso, legs and sometimes the arms. Spot on, right? Wrong. If I wanted  purple one piece leotard with fur cuffs I would have had no trouble finding what I needed. But, alas, we’re not going for sex-kitten here.

Probably the closest thing we found was a flight suit we stumbled across at the army surplus store. They didn’t come in white, but they were available in my size and came in tan. We thought that maybe we’d bleach it.

But then Daniel, who never tires of Google searches, came across a website that sold an even better version of what we needed. It was light weight and came in a light shade of khaki that could easily be bleached. Plus, it was made for women!

It was, by no means, perfect. But it was the best of all the things we’d found. I placed my first order back in November. I won’t give the name of the company but I will say that they are a retail outlet vendor operating out of China. If there are any seasoned cosplayers from the US reading this who are now groaning and shaking their heads, believe me, I learned my lesson.

I ordered a small size and, when it arrived about a month and a half later, I couldn’t even pull it up over my thighs. No exaggeration here. I’m not saying this to mean that it was so tight that I had to roll it up over my knees and onto my thighs and then I could barely move in it. I literally mean that I could not, even with additional help, force it up past my knees. Disheartening? Yes.

At first, I thought about returning it and exchanging it. But, I would have had to have paid for shipping. Shipping to China cost more than the suit itself. I didn’t find this to be an unreasonable request from the vendor but it made more sense for us to just eat the money and order another suit. This time I ordered a large.

Another month and a half later, I received my large. Allow me to put this into perspective for everyone. I am 5’2 and my pant size can range anywhere from a 6 to an 8 depending on the store. Yes, a small might have been ridiculous but a large should have been a safe bet. I was able to roll the suit like panty-hose up my legs and then hoist the top of the suit up over my shoulders as if they were a tight pair of suspenders. I could get my arms into the sleeves but there was no way that I could button the suit. I thought that maybe I could stretch it a bit but, as I lunged, the inseam ripped. Even as I’m typing this months and months later, I can remember how frustrated I was. It was time for a new strategy.

Let me introduce you to Adina.

This is her in her amazing Alana cosplay she built just in time for C2E2. If you dig her style, hit up her Tumblr. She has posted her own work as well as a wealth of tutorials there for your perusal.

Alana Saga Cosplay

This is her in her amazing Alana cosplay she built just in time for C2E2. Eleanor Lamb’s suit would not have been possible had she not swooped in and offered to save the day with her mad sewing machine skills. I was especially grateful for her help since we were a mere four months away from the convention and the time it would have taken me to learn to sew and purchase a sewing machine might have resulted in calamity!

She picked out an appropriate pattern – Kwik Sew, pattern KSP3052 which was, of course, a catsuit. She let me accompany her out to purchase material, we chose a stretch knit fabric in an off-white color and she went to working her magic. She even went above and beyond to add the patches to the suit. When I got it back, I couldn’t have been happier. After going through so many disappointing purchases and trips to fitting rooms, the feeling of trying on a suit that fit so beautifully was the best feeling in the world. Here’s a couple of pictures for comparison.

Eleanor Lamb Cosplay Eleanor Lamb screen shot

 Pretty fantastic, if I do say so myself. Once again, I want to express my gratitude to my friend. Her generous assistance made my cosplay possible.

This was quite a wordy post. Thank you for letting me vent my months old frustration! I can promise you that the next post will have more than enough pictures and processes to make up for everything! Next up – weathering and distressing the ever-living hell out of this pristine suit! — TGC


4 Responses to “Level 8:1 – Construct Suit”

  1. Meris May 14, 2014 at 8:55 PM #

    Your costume looks great! I have been eagerly waiting to see the final photos.

    Adina did a wonderful job on the suit. Cosplay friends are so important for so many reasons!

    • thosecrazygilberts May 15, 2014 at 10:57 AM #

      Thanks Meris! Adina’s kind of the best, she also took the time to help escort us around the convention for over half of her day. Lesson learned, when visibility is limited you need a handler.

  2. Adina May 14, 2014 at 9:07 PM #

    I was so glad to help! Working on your costume was the motivation I needed to get started on Alana. She wouldn’t have been here if it weren’t for you.

    Can’t wait to start on our next cosplay adventure!

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