Behind the Curtain: Asgardian Storm (with Pictures!)
Cosplayers know that getting the costumes, especially the less popular ones, requires a lot of work. People learn to sew, make props, do makeup or they pay people with those skills to do it for them. I’m not going to drop a thousand dollars on a costume. No disrespect to people who do, I just enjoy the problem solving aspect of cosplay too much to pay someone else to do it for me. Which is not to say I don’t buy pieces of my outfits. I don’t sew, which means I usually buy pieces of the outfits and then convert them to parts of the costume, which presents a different set of problems.
I’m a large woman. I’m well over 200lbs and finding clothes to wear can be a challenge, so you can imagine the difficulty for costumes. There are some items that just aren’t made. Granted, it’s a LOT easier now than 10 years ago, where there was a much smaller plus size clothing market, but there are still some challenges that appear every time I work on a costume.
One of the ways I combat this problem is learning to recognize universal items i.e. that can be used with multiple costumes. I have a closet full of items that I acquired over years – boots, capes, dresses, corsets, leggings, tights…if I can see it as part of a costume, I buy it for future use. This isn’t always the best way to do things, especially as some items require significant alteration to be used, but it’s worked really well with corsets and boots.
For my Asgardian Storm costume, I have items I purchased and altered, some I purchased and didn’t need to change, and items I created.
Purchased, unaltered items:
Corset: This corset is 9 years old. I bought it on a whim for $100 online and it was one of the best purchases I've made. I've used it with at least 4 different costumes. The store I’d purchased from changed operations, but fortunately there are tons of corset places to buy online. Lately, I’ve been browsing at www.corset-story.com and http://www.alt-noir.com/steel-boned-corsets.html. I recommend only purchasing steel-boned corsets if you are using them for actual support and body shaping. I wore this under the dress to get the Asgardian Storm cleavage. I tried to find gold corset lacing, but was unable to find any that was strong enough to substitute for the black lacing.
Black boots: I am constantly on the lookout for black boots. The ones I used for this costume are Fergalicious Tiara, Wide Calf, black boot. This boot was advertised as an over the knee boot, but it actually just went to my knee. It’s a flat boot, because I don’t do heels, especially at conventions. That’s just a prescription for pain.
Fur leg covers: I was going to buy fur and make some boot covers, then I saw a pair at Party City for $15. Yoink! I literally just pull these over my boot.
Leggings: I’ve been on the hunt for some skin tone leggings for years. The ones I used for this costume do not remotely match, but I was not going to go out without pants. Recently, I found some plus size, pantyhose in my skin color through Nubian Skin. They are a great match, and are sheer to waist but are really fragile, like most hosiery. Also, Nubian Skin calls them tights but they are flat out pantyhose. Don’t be fooled.
Blue gloves: I grabbed these at a local costume shop, www.costumesetc.com. Trust me when I say gloves are hard as hell to make. Save yourself the migraine and just buy them.
Mjolnir: Asgardian Storm actually carries Stormcaster, but here is a secret to cosplay – don’t try to do everything 100% right the first time. If you like the costume, you’ll upgrade it for the next iteration. When I fix this costume, I may convert Mjolnir into Stormcaster. Or not. Who knows? This is another toy from Party City that saved me a headache. It’s not a great hammer, but it is lightweight and looks decent enough.
Cape: This is really just a big sheet of blue fabric that I hemmed using iron-on adhesive and then used Velcro to attach it to the dress. I bought the fabric at Hancock Fabrics. To attach the front to my dress, I tied them around binger clips and then clipped them to my corset and covered it with gold fabric. I’m janky.
Items purchased specifically for the costume:
Dress: This dress was not perfect for the costume. Asgardian Storm actually has sleeves but it was really difficult finding a dress with a deep v-neck and slits up the legs. It was actually hard to find the dress with the slits. I was going to just take a long black skirt and cut slits myself, but I kept looking and finally found it on LovelyWholesale. I admit, the site looks sketchy to me, but I took a chance and it really worked out. They have a lot of items that could potentially be used for cosplay. I ironed Velcro onto the shoulders and across the back to attach the shoulder armor and the cape. I also cut strips or blue fabric so that I could create the design on the front of the skirt. I used heat bond strips to fuse the fabric together.
Necklaces: The gold neck piece are actually 2 different necklaces. One is a snake that I wrapped around my neck, the second is a gold coin necklace. I purchased both of these from Costumes Etc. and they were on the pricier side. I really wanted to make a neckpiece, but I happened to see these when I was out and once I tried them on, it was a done deal.
Wig (purchased and styled by Mina’s Fashions in Atlanta): The wig was challenging as hell. I’m not interested in shaving my head at this time, and even if I did, the white Mohawk was going to be a problem. Therefore, I sought the expertise of my friend Mina, who’s been styling wigs for years. She’s styled a number of wigs for me in the past and does an amazing job. I love working with her. She took a flat, white wig and made it into a thing of beauty. I reasoned that I didn’t need to shave my head because the wings would cover much of my head.
Items crafted for the costume:
Headpiece: The headpiece is made of worbla, cardboard angel wings purchased from Costumes Etc., craft foam, and gold paint. I basically made a headband, cut the wings in half, and attached them using worbla. To attach them, I punched holes in the wings and ran a sliver of worbla through them, then heated it to attach to the headband. It was much more annoying than it sounds and I scorched my wings in the process. To hide the worbla, I painted it white and then glued a feather over it. From a distance, you can’t tell what I did. Then I painted the headband gold and voila! Winged headband.
Belt: I keep a few belts that have holes along its entire length of them. I find they are useful, especially when you need to attach something. For this costume, I made a belt cover, that only extended around my front and sides. It’s made of craft foam and worbla. I love worbla. It sticks to itself and is really solid for façade work. I highly recommend it, if you can afford it. It’s not something you use for flexible pieces, but if you just need it to sit in your body and not move, worbla is the way to go. I made the belt façade, punched holes in it, and ziptied it to a black belt.
Shoulder armor: The shoulders are pieces of heat-shaped foam tiles that I cut into a rounded triangle. I scored them with a razor and heated them to curve them. Then I covered them with a few coats of mod podge and spray painted them silver. Then, I glued Velcro strips on them so that I could Velcro them to the dress. To be honest, these were not the most stable shoulders. I’m not sure how I’m going to fix this, but I was able to wear them for 9 hours without mishap.
So that’s Asgardian Storm. I will most likely wear the costume again, but I do need to make some adjustments first. Or not. The coolest thing about cosplay is that there's no "right" way to do it. Just do what you like.