There comes a time in the life of any maker that one has more good encouragement than good sense. These moments, when enthusiastic friends push you to do the wild, half-planned idea, far outside of your comfort zone – these are the projects that one remembers most fondly. If you’ve noticed me taking a bit of a detour from my usual writing fare, I hope these tangents don’t deter you from coming with me on this creative journey. Seldom does fiction occur in a vacuum, unaffected by the author’s other interests, and seldom does Making Stuff occur in a vacuum, devoid of influence from other creative friends. Your life becomes more interesting as you become more well-rounded, and I’m a firm believer that the same goes for your fictional worlds.
Is this a lengthy excuse for inflicting you with my latest fan project? Yes. Yes, it is. But this is my slice of the internet and I’ve spent altogether too much time and money on this project not to show it off literally everywhere. There’s a moral in here somewhere, I swear, but in an age of ~Careful Branding~ and ~Targeted Marketing~ I hope it’s more fun to read this blog when it’s just me. Some nerd. Enthusiastically and unashamedly rambling about my self-indulgent hobbies for whoever cares enough to listen. Somehow, doing just that helped me to find all the lovely people who worked on this project with me ❤
This story actually begins two years ago when Quinn Siarven introduced me to Brandon Sanderson’s work. I told the whole story about how I fell in love with the Cosmere and why it’s a masterpiece of storytelling in last week’s post, so check that out if you’re interested in learning more about the books themselves. Quinn has been an invaluable friend and evil idea generator for un-blocking WIPs, so I owe them a LOT, not just a cloak, haha.
The concept for this project began as a cheap Halloween costume. To get the iconic ribbons of the cloak, I planned to pick up some capes from some place like Spirit Halloween or Party City, and cut them up. My roommate, Stephanie, and I went out shopping one afternoon at the beginning of October to obtain the pieces, but I spent well over half an hour whinging and cringing over the fabric choices and work and price that it would take to turn the mass produced monstrosities into something wearable. Stephanie gently took the things out of my hand and put them back on the shelf, saying, “You’re never going to be happy with it if you don’t make it yourself. Let’s get fabric instead.” If it weren’t for her enabling this impulse purchase, I probably would have talked myself out of the project, but also the costume as a whole, opting for something easier. I have a very “go big or go home” mentality which can sometimes work to my deficit, but she helped push me over the edge and commit to something that would push my skill and time management skills. Throughout the project, she asked for updates and offered to help, and when I finally made it home from the shop with the completed design at 1am, she dragged herself out of bed to give me a round of applause.
I work at the maker-space at school, which means I have access to a sewing machine and some large tables. Not large enough, apparently, as I had to prop up the fabric with extra chairs. My coworkers were also enthusiastic – most of us work there because we’re makers – regardless of medium. They were happy to ask me questions about the project, offer a hand if I needed help to wrangle the fabric itself, or covering the other parts of the shop so I could work without getting distracted. My boyfriend also came down to the shop at all hours of the night to keep me company while I hemmed miles of fabric, which was a boon when I got frustrated with the patterning.
Because I couldn’t lay out all the fabric, I cut it wrong at first and had to patch it. This isn’t the end of the world, as it was a small patch that can conceal a pocket, and piecing fabric is period to every historical era, but it was still annoying when I wanted the entire thing to work out perfectly. But such is the nature of making stuff. You get happy accidents. If I’m showing you the process, I don’t want to edit stuff out just to make my skill seem higher than it really is. Sometimes it’s ok to patch up a mistake and move on.
The next step was stitching all the pieces together. This wasn’t too difficult, but it was time-consuming just for the bulk of fabric. This is a good beginners project because it’s only a few symmetrical pieces, and the design is more or less one-size-fits-all except for the length, and so there aren’t any fussy mockups or fitting steps to worry about. You also get a wearable blanket. No downsides.
To finish the cloak, I had to add the hood, binding, and hem the bottom up about 7.5 inches so I wouldn’t trip on it. I’m 5’5″ (165 cm), and the pattern was designed for someone much taller, but rolling up that much weight gives the fabric a rather nice swoosh whenever I move, while weighing it down so I can control the movement. I was too attached to the cloak to cut the bulk of the fabric into strips, but with the spare material, I cut out ribbons to attach to the outside of the cloak, to give the wispy iconic silhouette that we hear described in the books. I stand by the headcannon that if the Mistborn wanted to have a functional warm garment for midnight romps, and something they could reasonably fight in, my design is a more practical middle ground. Besides, Sanderson described Vin as “wrapping her mistcloak around her” which she couldn’t do if it was only ribbons. I’ll wait here patiently for the official art to reflect my idea lol.
Finally, I got together all the other costume pieces, which included getting a haircut and my ears re-pierced! I sewed a quick belt which included loops for my vials, which Stephanie and I picked up at Michaels, and a coin pouch. My boyfriend offered to design the dagger, which we cut out on the laser cutter from a sheet of clear acrylic with the help of our friend who’s the resident expert.
I ran out of time to find metal for the vials before Halloween, but as I was walking around campus, my floormate stopped me to compliment on the costume. When he asked what was in the vials, I mentioned I was missing the last piece of the costume, he shrugged, and said it looked epic, regardless. Twenty minutes later, he knocked on our dorm door and handed me a handful of metal shavings he’d picked up from his lab. Of all the times I’ve worn it out and about, I’ve received a few weird looks, but mostly just nice people who were impressed to see a homemade costume. If you’re ever afraid of being your wholeheartedly weird self, take this as encouragement to let your guard down. The cool, weird people will come to you – that’s how you find a community.
The Finished Project!
Question for you: Have you ever done a cosplay? Why did you pick the character you did and who supported you along the way? I want to hear your costuming stories too!
I hope this cosplay does justice to the love I have for these books and for Vin’s character. If you’ve read to the end of this, thank you for following along on this self indulgent little project. I’ve got one more personal project to share next week so I hope you’ll stick around for that before we return to the regularly scheduled writing program. As always, I am open to suggestion if you have a topic you’d like to see covered! If you feel so generously inclined, you can support my writing (and other creative endeavors) by leaving me a tip on my Kofi or donating using the secure box below. Until next time, thanks for reading and happy writing!
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