COSTUME: MADAME WEB (MARVEL)
AMBER LOVE 14-OCT-2014 I didn’t make a log of all the steps I took creating this particular costume. It’s pretty straightforward. Other than modifying the pattern, the creation of the costume fell into place as you’d expect. The tricky part was the white piping down the center which is supposed to end in a spiral. I didn’t know how exactly to spiral the piping while having fabric on all sides of it. As always, I ran into a lot of problems like my machine jamming and tangling the bobbin thread. I don’t know why I suck at bobbins but they often get tangled into awful nests of thread that need to be cut out.
The applique of the spider body and legs was challenging, for sure. The legs were thin and I was worried about lining them up correctly. I can’t even tell if they’re even because my own posture is quite crooked. My hips and shoulders are never straight across because I have scoliosis.
Just like with Firestar, this Marvel character MADAME WEB stuck with me in my memory banks from seeing her in a SPIDER-MAN cartoon. Everyone asks which one and I can’t even recall because there are have been so many Spidey animated series! As I always do, I went over to ComicVine for my research.
When it comes down to cosplay and wearing a costume, a lot of people have said they feel they need to look like the character. Well, I certainly never do! It’s about playing dress up not being cast in a Hollywood blockbuster. Sure, those people who really do look like Loki and Gamora are lucky and get their photos taken a lot more but that’s not all the scene is about. I’ve had Madame Web on my To-Do list for several years. Part of that is because I’m getting older and there aren’t nearly as many old characters as there are 20-somethings. Even though I’m still quite a ways off from the ages of Aunt May or Cassandra Web, I have an open mind about costuming in their role. It would be the same if I ever had the chance to be Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter.
That’s on the subject of age. Now let me talk about the ever cringeworthy comparisons of body type. I am NOTHING like the character Madame Web. She’s thin and elderly yet still drawn with an ample gravity-defying bosom. I’m 42 and my breasts sag low but this is comics and animation and breasts never fall victim to gravity. Even Madame Web, as old as she is, is drawn with a fabulous rack.
I haven’t felt like donning spandex since gaining half the weight back that I lost years ago. I wanted to make this gown out of spandex because of how it looked when drawn. It’s form-fitting and should actually taper well passed her feet because she is rarely seen standing. Madame Web was always in a cosmic throne and unable to walk but there is some comic issue out there where she is, in fact, standing. I’m not sure about her abilities in the video games but she appears there also. In order to be practical, I planned to make the gown more functional and have the hem above my feet so I could walk with relative ease through a convention.
There is also a huge difference in how I look in photos. I took progress shots where I look terrible! And yes, I was wearing body shaper things underneath. As any cosplayer or model can tell you, there’s such a thing as bad pictures. This was definitely going to be something I had to be aware of and simply accept if I was going to be seen in public. In some pics (like the one above shot with my webcam), I think I look great! In others, I think I look like a bloated tick.
CONSTRUCTION & MATERIALS:
The spandex is from SpandexWorld which is my favorite online resource for spandex and mesh fabrics. The red is #797 Milliskin Matte (red) and the white is Moleskin Matte (white) #977. The gown was created by combining the regular figure skating pattern I always use for superhero zentai suits with the skirt portion of the gown I used to make the Adam Hughes’ Wonder Woman Grecian gown. Before beginning, I learned a lesson from making the Hughes’ WW gown. My sewing form is not the same figure as my actual body. I added a bra with a slightly larger band to my dress form and the difference is remarkable. The form’s breasts are nowhere near where mine fall on my frame so adding a bra to my dress form gave me a much closer representation of what it would look like on me which I needed to have in order to do things like place the applique spider.
The wig was a gift from my friend Karen. She had used it for a costume and it originally had a very long braid down the back. On her, the widow’s peak looked great. When I tried it on, the whole wig was enormous. It’s considerably teased and Madame Web’s hair is flat. In fact, Madame Web has ugly awful hair. It’s short and slicked back but not cool looking like Trinity from The Matrix. I was trying not to spend any more money so if there was any chance at using a free wig, I was going to take it. I cut off a lot of the length from it. The first time I wore it, I had the sides pulled back in a Spidey logo barrette I made. I thought it was fine but when I saw pictures, I felt the bottom part was far too puffy. The next time I wore it, I pulled all of it back into a short braid with the same accessory.
One of the things that kept bothering me when I was deciding whether or not to create Madame Web was that her spider logo only had SIX legs. What have these artists been thinking? She’s not a tick. She’s from the Spiderverse. Eight legs. EIGHT would be needed if I was going to make this. As you can see, I added two short legs at the bottom where the “silk” thread would be attached.
Speaking of the piping used for that spider silk trim, I completely messed that up and it worked it my advantage. I had placed a mock up of the spider body on the dress while it was on my sewing form. I marked with invisible ink where the logo would be so that I could cut the gown up the center and stitch in the piping. I accidentally put the piping about five inches too low! It was starting at my bellybutton instead of at the bottom of my chest! Adding the extra two legs solved this problem because I put them at angles where they look like a spider’s legs should, together and directing the web.
The shoes were $10 canvas Mary Janes found on Amazon. The earrings were made from sculpey and attached to clip-on bases from the craft store. The hair accessory was made from a sheet of craft foam glued to a barrette base from the craft store. The gem was from a big assortment of gems from the jewelry section of the craft store and attached to my forehead with prosth-aid glue. The goggles were also an online find and pretty cheap.
MISCELLANEOUS CONSTRUCTION IMAGES
This gallery even includes the fittings where I was convinced I looked so terrible in the dress that I’d never ever wear it. Instead, I walked away from it for sometimes weeks and would try to resolve the problems. Overall, I’m happy with how it came out and if I did it again, I’d probably go with more traditional formalwear fabric and make it as a proper evening gown.