Friday, November 29, 2013

Chicago TARDIS: My Schedule

Hey everyone! Here is my schedule for tomorrow (Saturday) at Chicago TARDIS. I'll be spending most of the morning in registration and waiting for my interview, so things will really kick off for me at noon.

12:00 PM

My first panel! Come to the Cypress room, where we'll be talking about SyFy's Heroes of Cosplay.

1:00 PM

Going to the Lilac room to see the panel "Fangirls Are Real Fans, Too."

2:00 PM

Speaking on my second panel, "So You Want to Cosplay" in the Cypress room.

3:00 PM

I'm going to check out the dealers room and the gaming room.

4:00 PM

I may go to the "Moffat's Girls" panel in the Lilac Room, or I may just wander around.

5:00 PM

"Saturday with Freema" panel in the Grand Ballroom.

6:00-7:30 PM

Break. Gotta find somewhere to eat!

7:30 PM

Masquerade! The best part of the day!

I have Geekphoria stickers to give away to people who come say "hi!." And also, as a special surprise, I will have a K-9 necklace and a Tardis necklace from my Etsy shop to give away to the first two people (one each) who come introduce themselves at Chicago TARDIS.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving: My List of Geeky Things I'm Thankful For

I've been a geek since before I even knew what a geek was. I was a geek throughout elementary school, middle school, high school, and college--even if I had to sometimes hide the extent of my geekiness (don't know why I even bothered, it didn't make me any cooler). Now that I'm an adult, and completely comfortable being my ridiculously geeky self, I can make this list of the geeky things I am thankful for--and the geeky women role models that I'm thankful I "met" as a child.

I'm thankful for these things that made me into the geek I am:

My life has always had Star Trek in it, and The Next Generation and Voyager in particular were the series that defined my childhood.

Not just Labyrinth (though it's #1), but all of the awesome fantasy movies from the 80s helped to foster my life-long love of fantasy, just as TNG did for my love of Sci-Fi.

While I played ton older systems, the Sega Genesis was the first console of my very own. I will always remember you fondly, Sega. Even if Echo the Dolphin was too difficult for kids my age, which was ridiculous BECAUSE WHAT FIVE-YEAR-OLD DOESN'T WANT TO BE A DOLPHIN?! (It's alright. I still love you).

Ocarina of Time is the video game that turned me into a gamer--there is no question about it. Forever grateful that I had the chance to own and play this game as a kid. It's still my favorite game in the world.

I'm grateful that I grew up in an era with the "right" type of children's shows and books that fostered me as a geekling.

I picked up the first Harry Potter book around the time that The Chamber of Secrets was published in the U.S. I love the Harry Potter world. When my anxiety gets crazy and I get upset, I grab one of these books, sit back, and it always manages to calm me. The Harry Potter fandom was also the first time that I realized how amazing and welcoming a fan community can be, and I'll always be grateful.

...but these will always be my #1 love (in terms of books). I started reading chapter books in kindergarten, and my silly Dad suggested that I read these only in first grade. Of course, they were waaay above my reading level, but I wanted to impress my father so I sat down and read them (and stole the dictionary to help me make my way through). Still, a lot of it was over my I came back to them the next year. And the next. And the next. Revisiting LotR over and over again each year allowed me to see new things each time, to grow my vocabulary, and to foster in me a love for fantasy. So even though my dad was completely insane to suggest that I read these at age six, I'm grateful for his urging (and to the Professor).

And I am grateful for these geeky women role models for making me into the person I am today:

I covered a few of these in my Geeky Heroines blog post, but I wanted to give credit where credit is due. Overall, I have to be grateful to these characters--and the people who created them--for giving a growing girl female role models who were intelligent, strong, brave, creative, and dedicated.

Alanna of Trebond and Olau

Captain Katherine Janeway

Agent Dana Scully

Buffy Summers

So those are my lists--even though they're nowhere near 100% complete. What is your geeky heart thankful for this holiday season?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

DIY T-shirt to Lacey Tank

I made this shirt to wear to Chicago TARDIS on Saturday, but then I scored an interview with Paul McGann and brought myself something nicer to wear (this TARDIS dress from Her Universe, to be specific). I still really like this shirt, though, so I thought I would share the DIY with you.

I began by cutting off the neck line, then cutting two inches off each side of the shirt. This allows for room to add in the lace without making the shirt too large and baggy.

Cutting two inches off...

From there, it was pretty easy to just sew in a strip of black lace on both sides. Make sure to sew the strips in so that the seam of the t-shirt/lace line are on the inside of the shirt. It's easy to mess this up. I didn't do that this time, but I did do it for my Halloween DIY.

I laid each strip of lace down so that the edges of the lace lined up with the edges of both the front and back of the t-shirt. I cue enough lace so that there was an inch or so left at the bottom, but it was flush with where I wanted the top of the lace to end for the arm hole.

Once I had the side sewn in, I cut across the top of the t-shirt's shoulder and inserted more lace there. I followed the same process of sewing in the top lace as I did sewing in the side lace. The picture above shows the process of sewing in the shoulder lace.

Remember that inch or so left at the bottom? I then folded it over and sewed a hem. I made sure to fold back the inner hems before I sewed the lower hem, to keep them in place.

Here's the shirt hanging over the door. I pushed out the sides in the first picture so you can see where they are.

I wasn't originally going to take a picture of the shirt on (it was a sweats day at my house), but then I threw it on over the tank top I was wearing under my sweatshirt. It doesn't go, but you get an idea of what the shirt looks like on. Luckily, the flash was ridiculously bright which helped to hide the fact that it wasn't a make-up day at my house, either. This shirt should be worn over a bandeau or a cami. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Tips for Cosplaying (While Broke)

I love to cosplay. I love making costumes, fashioning props, and showing off all my hard work. I love being the characters I adore, even if it's just for eight hours in a crowded convention hall.

I'm also a graduate student, which means I'm broke.

Cosplay is an expensive hobby. Whether you're making your own costumes and props from scratch, or buying some or all of a costume, it can certainly take its toll on your wallet. I've been cosplaying for a few years now, and while I'm nowhere near the level of some of the elite cosplayers, I'm comfortable enough in the cosplay world to give some hints on how you can keep your cosplay costs down. Or at least manageable.

1. Plan in advance.

An essential part of keeping your cosplay costs down is setting a budget for your costume. I usually go to two big cons a year, and I will ideally have one new costume for each convention. This means that I have roughly half a year to plan. The planning includes figuring out what kind of materials I need to buy, and then picking them up over a period of time. It allows me to spread out my spending, and to take advantage of different sales. I'm able to buy almost everything I need for a costume at a greatly reduced price, while I wouldn't be able to do this if I didn't plan so far ahead. Shopping at sales also allows you to stock up on notions and thread, which can be pricey if you have to buy them at full price.

2. Be realistic about your costume.

Do you have a budget of $40 for your costume? If you want to keep to that budget, you'll have to carefully choose which character you're going to cosplay. You'll probably be limited to characters with basic cloth fabrics--cotton blends and the like (but whatever you do, stay away from broadcloth. It's cheap, but it never looks "right"). Incorporating silks, satin, or anything approximating armor will most likely send you way over budget. If you want to include a large prop, you can expect to spend at least $20 on that alone, once you add it all up (foam or wood, glue, paints, etc.)

You should also keep in mind your skill set. If you're working on a tight budget, it may not be wise to try out new methods, materials or to work with new fabrics. Wait until you're comfortable with new approaches, or have enough money to use as a safety net. You don't want to accidentally mess something up and "lose" the money you invested in that material.

3. Work with what you have.

This works the best if you're cosplaying a video game, TV, or movie character who wears normal clothes (or something close). I broke my first rule and had two new cosplays for Chicago Comic Con this past August. I was able to make my second costume for under $20.00, though, since I was Zoey from Left 4 Dead. All I had to do was buy the red track jacket ($4 at the thrift store), toy shotgun ($10), and make the med kit (about $4). The rest of the costume--jeans, white shirt, and shoes--were in my closet. Also, if you have a cool replica prop you can sometimes make yourself the rest of the costume without breaking the bank. A friend of mine had a Master Sword and Hylian Shield replica. It wasn't too costly to get the fabric to make Link's costume from Ocarina of Time.

4. "Recycle" pieces.

Sometimes you have pants, a coat, a robe, or a shirt that you can use for multiple costumes. This really helps to keep your costume on budget. One of the best pieces to recycle, though, is a wig. A wig is a very important part of a costume. It's hard to really pull a character off if you don't have the right hair. Some people can get away with it sometimes, but I'm definitely not one of those people--my hair is a curly, frizzy, unruly mess. The good thing about wigs, though, is that they're investment pieces. I have nice wigs that I use for different costumes, and sometimes I plan costumes based on what wigs I have. $30-$40 on a wig can put a dent in your bank account, but if you can use it for three or four different costumes it could be worth it. Make sure to get a nice wig, though. I prefer Arda Wigs.

5. Invest the time.

So you can't afford worbla or sintra, or to make your own molds. But you can afford Sculpey, cardboard, foam board (and paperclay), and craft foam. If you study up on the material you can afford, and take your time to meticulously and carefully craft your pieces, you can make the cheaper materials look as good (or at least nearly as good) as the pricier materials. Sometimes this takes practice, though, so before you try to make a large sword or full armor, try out a character that has a smaller weapon or pieces of armor.

6. Participate in costume swaps.

Do you want to wear a new costume, but you don't have any money? If you and a friend are the same size (or near enough that it doesn't matter), and both have old costumes lying around, you can trade costumes and satisfy your desire to be a new character without spending a dime. It's fun to try new things without being locked into it. For example, I'm not that invested in anime, and I would probably never spend the money required to make the perfect anime character costume. But there are definitely characters I like and would like to cosplay--and some of my friends have these costumes already made. So I'll go as Motoko Kusanagi and she'll be Dove for the day. It's perfect!

I hope you all find this list helpful. I think that these tips can be helpful even if you aren't pinching pennies to create your costumes. Let me know what you think in the comments :). And check out the weekly blog series on cosplay that I'm writing for Junkies Nation. Weekly Cos-Day features some of the best cosplays found on the internet and submitted to my e-mail ( At the end of each Weekly Cos-day is a link to a cosplay tutorial. You can see the first two editions here and here

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Funko Thursday #1

I'm obsessed with the Funko Vinyl figures. When they first started a few years back I began to buy every one I could get my hands on, and I dreamed of collecting them all. Of course, the Funko Vinyls have exploded since them, with exclusive and limited pieces, and hundreds of normal vinyls. This has made collecting them all completely impossible, but I still follow the brand closely and love seeing the newest pieces and exclusives.

So this is why I've started the Funko Thursday blogs. This is my time to show you what new Vinyls are coming out, and where you can get some of the coolest exclusives I've seen lately. I'll probably do this every two weeks, in order to gather the best intel on a timely basis.

Today, though, enjoy the goodies I've gathered for you!

Legolas (blue-eyed variant) and Cobweb Bilbo are exclusives at Hot Topic. I've heard they're sold out online, but if you're lucky you can still find them in-store.

Brienne and Hodor have been announced as some of the newest characters for the Game of Thrones Vinyl lines. Hodor hodor hodor.

 I have the blood-splattered Daryl figure from Harrison's Comics. Now I want Glenn. You can get him from Men of Action Figures through this link.

Leonardo was my favorite as a kid. I would love the metallic variant that was a SDCC exclusive, but it's a little out of my price range at around $25.00 on Ebay.

The battle-scarred Tyrion HBO store exclusive is pretty great. He's still available, and you can get him here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Products in the Geekphoria Shop!

Hey everyone! A new type of product just premiered at the Geekphoria Etsy store--just in time for holiday shopping! It's jewelry!

I'm particularly proud of these K-9 necklaces (he had adorable ears and a tail, d'awww), and these pictures don't NEARLY do him justice. Seriously. I need a better camera. But K-9 isn't the only new thing at the store! I have already put up Avatar: The Last Airbender, Harry Potter, Pokemon and more Doctor Who themed necklaces. I'm currently working on even more necklaces from even more geeky franchises!

Here are some pictures to get you excited. Look for all the new products on the Etsy store page. You can follow this link, or click on the link on the side bar.

Also, guess what? I've created a coupon code to celebrate the new jewelry items! It's good for anything in the store, though--including any custom orders (contact me with your order either through the Etsy store or by e-mail at Use the code GeekphoriaJewelry to get 20% off until this Friday!

Monday, November 11, 2013

How to Turn Your Little Brother Into Ash Ketchum (Or Make Your Own Sewing Pattern)

Also, how to create your own patterns for costumes! Which may be more useful for some of you.

The first step for turning your brother into Ash Ketchum is to buy him an Ash hat during Chicago Comic Con, but the first step to creating your own costume pattern by scratch is to snatch all the free newspapers from your student union. Or get yourself a newspaper through some more legitimate means. You really only need one newspaper. I went a little overboard because my brother is abnormally tall.

I'M 5'10" DAMMIT.
I then got my brother's measurements--across the chest, from the underarm to the hip, neck to shoulder, end of the shoulder to where you want the armpit to hit, and from the shoulder to the hip.

Then I searched online for patterns for button-down shirts. I wanted to see what the collar and arm holes looked like, but I didn't want to copy it exactly because the only free patterns I could find were for women. So I adjusted things a little bit in my head, and began to sketch the back and front of the shirt on the newspaper. Each of these are only half of the shirt. So you have one of the front pieces and half of the back piece. Don't worry, it's still all under control.

Use your cutting mat to measure the distance from the neck to the shoulder, and mark that across the top. Then sketch in the length from the shoulder to the armpit. Following that, measure from the armpit to the waistline. Basically, it looks like this:

You can use these points to sketch in the neck and the armholes. These will be curved lines, but you want your shoulder and side seams to be straight lines.

This is your front piece. Your back piece will be exactly the same except that the neck hole will be much, much shallower.

I don't have a picture of this step either (I suck) but then you measure how long you want the sleeve to be. You mark this length for each side of the sleeve (also determine the width and cut your pattern to be that wide, plus the seam allowance). The top of the pattern will need to be arched to have enough room for the roundness of the shoulder. At least, that's why I think there's an arch. Dammit, Jim, I'm a gamer, not a seamstress! Also, I'm a Trekker.

Here's a picture of my cat. Because reasons.

The far piece is the front pattern. The middle piece is the back pattern. You lay it out so that the center is on a fold of the fabric, so it opens out to be the whole back. The near piece, of course, is the sleeve.

Now I don't have pictures do to a total walk though, but here are a few in-progress pictures.

Adding the sleeves to the "vest" of the combined fronts and back.

The basic piece of the shirt. 

Added the yellow trim and now hemming the opening of the shirt.

And here's my brother wearing the costume! And that's how you turn your little brother into Ash Ketchum.

Have a nice night, guys!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Strange Thing Happened at the Comic Book Store Today...

Okay, really, it wasn't exactly strange. But I thought I handled it well, and since I'm not quick on my feet when it comes to human interaction I'm proud enough of this moment to share this with people.

I arrived at my local comic book store around 6:45 tonight. I walked in, when to where they keep the Batfamily comics, and then wandered up to see if they had Vol. 2 of Justice League Dark. They didn't, but I grabbed the first volume of Sandman and got in line.

The older gentleman ahead of me (I'd say he was early to mid-forties) finished paying the owner, turned around, and stopped dead in his tracks.

"You're a girl!" he exclaimed, incredulous. I was confuse, at first, since there were only four of us in this shop and there's really no mistaking me for not a girl if you catch a glance of me. I have a long braid. I was wearing a peacoat and skinny jeans. My headband was pink.

So, while wondering how he hadn't seen me in the seven or so minutes I was walking around the entire tiny (I mean, it's 20ftx20ft) comic store, the first thing that came to my mind was "Yeah, I am."

"You're in a comic book store!" he exclaimed. I saw the color begin to drain out of the store owner's face over this guy's shoulder. It was like he was mortified for me, but also a little nervous about how this was going to turn out. I should explain--I'm about 5'10, with a sturdy, athletic build. I also suffer from resting bitch face, and the combination of these two factors means that strangers pretty much never just come up and talk to me. I'm intimidating, and people avoid interacting with me.

But the fact that strangers rarely randomly come up to talk to me means that I am not adept at interaction with them, so my brain was still struggling to catch up with this sudden social interaction when I replied "Yeah, I know."

Still being loud enough to fill the entire (admittedly small) store, the man said "Girls never go to comic book stores!"

I shrugged, and replied "I wasn't aware of that. There's always a girl in a comic book store whenever I go."

I don't know if this guy was trying to be cute, or just teasing me, but he was quiet for a second before he said, "Fair enough. Good one," and left.

The owner was still chuckling to himself when I left.

P.S. here's my haul:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why You Should Go To Chicago TARDIS

Do you have big plans for this Thanksgiving? Weirdly enough, my plans revolve around things that aren't very Thanksgiving-y, for reasons that we won't get into here (this is a happy place!). I'm going to be spending the day with my parents and my brother, so it will be very laid back and relaxed--and kind of like every other day that I happen to be at my parents' house. So that leaves only two things for me to get excited about that holiday weekend.

First, I'm going to try to get this gorgeous thing:

Second, I'm going here:

It will be my first year going to Chicago TARDIS, so I'm not quite sure what to expect from it. Has anyone reading this attended it? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments

Despite the fact that I don't know what to expect from the convention, here are a list of reasons that I'm excited to be attending--which can also be used as a list of reasons why you should attend too, if you're in the area.

1. There will be three doctors in attendance.

Peter Davison, Coilin Baker, and Paul McGann are all going to attend Chicago TARDIS. I'm really excited to see their panels, and for the first time ever I think that I would have interesting questions to ask these gentlemen--especially Davison and McGann

2. Some of my favorite companions will be there, as well. 

I'm really excited to see Freema Agyeman and Louise Jameson. I think that these women portrayed their characters as strong role models for everyone, but especially for young girls. Though you could argue that Leela was a little too violent-minded, I think that she showed that women can be strong in a way that you didn't really see back then.

3. It's a small con. 

Attendance is capped at 2,000 attendees per day. Though that's technically a large number, anyone who's attended a bigger con (Dragon*Con, SDCC, Emerald City, or even one of the Wizard Wold conventions) knows that they've been smooshed within crowds that were multiple times larger than this. In such a con, it's easier to meet people, have discussions with creators and cosplayers, and--guess what--you'll actually be able to breathe.

4. I'm excited to meet people

This definitely builds off of #3. At Chicago TARDIS, I'm hoping to meet some cosplayers and people selling their work on the convention floor (and I want to interview them for this blog, too). I want to meet people who are as passionate about Doctor Who and geeky things as I am, and I think that's more likely at someplace like Chicago TARDIS than at a bigger con. It seems like it would be more collegial.

5. Awesome night-time activities

Chicago TARDIS has a list of Friday and Saturday evening activities that seem like a lot of fun. There is going to be a trivia contest, a costume parade, a costume contest, and MST3K-like showing of "The Five Doctors", and a karaoke party! Basically, there's at least one thing that would be fun for everyone.

6. It's the weekend after the 50th!

You probably know that the 50th Anniversary episode is going to air on November 23rd. This means that by November 29th, everyone here will have seen it. The discussions will be amazing and the fandom will be electrified. How could you miss this?

So there you have it--my six reasons why you should go to Chicago TARDIS. I have tickets for Saturday, so let me know if you will be there that day (unfortunately, the Saturday-only tickets are sold out, so if you want to go on Saturday you will need to buy a weekend ticket). Did I make you decide you wanted to go? If so, you can buy tickets here.

Some Halloween Goodies!

Hi everybody!

Halloween is pretty much my favorite holiday, and I'm not quite sure why. I think it may just be a nerd thing. I love the decorations, I love dressing up, I love horror movies and shows, and I even love the gimmicky candy. I'm ready for it to be Halloween in the middle of September, and I usually spend the entire month preparing for it. I watch everything Halloween-y I can get to on TV, including those ridiculous real hauntings shows. I just eat it all up.

This year, I spent a lot of time making my Halloween costume. I also made part of my boyfriend's costume (he was supposed to be Splinter, but he didn't bother to get himself a mask or cane or anything, so he ended up just being a dude in a robe). I made the shirt for my brother's Ash Ketchum costume, too.

Nerdy people in my nerdy bedroom.

I made my armor out of craft foam, and connected the straps with round velcro stickers. I made my helmet with an adjusted version of this cardboard helmet tutorial. I used cardboard and craft foam, then filled it with papier mache and wood filler. Using the craft foam may have been a mistake--I think the weight of the other products made it deform a bit as I was building it--but I included it because I thought it would be more comfortable. I will probably go back and re-do all the armor with something like sintra if I choose to ever wear it to a con, since I don't really like how the craft foam turned out.

Here are a few in-progress pictures:

This is the original helmet base, which didn't have any cardboard. 

And here are some of the armor pieces, in their flat foam form.

Here's the helmet base I ended up using (it had some added cardboard to help it keep the shape and a full ...flap?) with the papier mache built up. I filled in all those spaces with food filler and sanded it down when I was done. 

Here are all my armor pieces before they were spray painted. I painted them with 3 layers of acrylic gesso so that the paint would stick correctly. I think I might just do two layers next time, though, since the armor got a little crunchy...

And here they are after 2-3 layers of paint

For the fabric pieces, I sewed my cape and sash myself. I bought the tights and leotard from We Love Fine, since I don't have the skill set for those type of pieces yet, but I added velcro to the shoulders of the leotard in order to secure the cape and the shoulder armor. 

And here are some pictures of the final product! They were taken by my boyfriend's sister, and you can see her awesome photography pages here and here

Overall, I was pleased with it as a Halloween costume, but I'd want to fix a LOT of it before I wore it to a con. A lot of people seem to like it, though, which makes me feel like I'm being a little to critical of myself. But that's how you grow, right?

Crafty Little Monster's Vanessa did a blog post on homemade Halloween costumes, with an interview with me! You should seriously check it out! You can also see Brook from Adventure is Afoot's adorable Wall*E costume! I really should see that movie sometime...

I was going to show you some more stuff on my brother's Ash Ketchum costume, but then I realized I took a bunch of in-progress pictures--so I will just make that a post of its own! For now, though, you can see the awesome pumpkins I made. Unfortunately, I didn't get a lit picture of the jack-o-lantern, but you'll easily get the idea.


Walking Dead Pumpkin

And I will leave you with this tonight:

Some geeks never change...