- Construction Details:
I created my own pattern, looking at a Beanie Baby swan for reference. I made a muslin version of the body and altered the pattern a few times to refine the shape and details, making test versions each time. I chose rainbow shades in silk shantung since it’s available in many colors and has a bit of stiffness which I wanted for the feathers. The text described Suioh as a rainbow-colored bird but there were no color references; I used a different phoenix drawn by the same artist as a starting point and took some creative liberties with where to put different colors.
The fabric for the body was embroidered using one of the decorative stitches on my sewing machine. I made feathers by satin stitching shapes onto two layers of silk and then carefully cutting away the fabric around the stitching. The eye feathers were made by sewing and flipping tiny pouches; the spots were ironed on with a fusible and the rhinestones were glued in place.
The wings were created with a layer of needlepoint canvas as a base. I couched wire to the canvas to hold its shape; the combination of wire and needlepoint canvas allows the wings to flap while retaining their shape. I then covered the base with a layer of silk so the canvas wouldn’t show. All of the wing feathers were stitched on by hand with tiny stitches. The eye feathers were stitched to each other and attached by hand. The other tail feathers were machine sewn into rows. The fan on the bird’s head was made by twisting together wire and Swarovski crystals; the finished piece was then stitched on by hand. The yellow around the eyes was fused and rhinestones were glued on for the eyes.
- Personal Thoughts:
I made this to go with my 19th Century D costume for the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Masquerade at Costume Con 27. I’d originally wanted to make a phoenix prop when I did the costume in late 2007 but didn’t have enough time. After finding how difficult it was to walk around cons in that costume, I figured adding a bird would be too much. The idea got shelved until a few months ago when I had the thought of making the bird and finally showing the costume onstage at Costume Con. It ended up not being worked on until 3 weeks before the con though because I had a meltdown on the new costumes I had been giving priority to. ^_^;;;
This thing turned out to be a time-eating and thread-eating monster. I originally thought it would take me around 40-50 hours but it ended up being closer to 70-80, which is probably as much time as I had spent on the whole 19th Century D costume back in 2007! Plus I completely used up 4 spools of thread in addition to a bunch of partial ones in order to do all the satin stitching and machine embroidery. o_o; It got a bit rushed towards the end; I had to finish sewing the tail feathers on in my hotel room and I would have liked to do a nicer fan for the head and better feet if there had been more time. ^_^;