Friday, May 5, 2017

Stealth Sailor Moon Formal

I have been wanting to make a galaxy-inspired Sailor Moon dress for ages. This isn't a dress, but it's close.

I foolishly did not take before/during/after photos of this project because I was in a bit of a rush to get it completed before ACEN. (And frankly because today has been chaotic.)

I started with a long formal skirt and sleeveless blouse, both black polyester, that I found at a thrift store. I think both pieces together cost $10. I bought Krylon spray paint (gloss) in Rich Plum, Ocean Blue and Hot Pink, and already had part of a can of Rust-Oleum French Lilac (satin).The pink and blue are both Short Cuts (little cans, 3oz.) and I have some left over. The purple wasn't available in a little can (at the Joann's where I bought it) so it's a full-size can.

I am fortunate enough to have a dressmaker's mannequin, and I covered it with plastic bags so as not to get paint on it.The skirt has a lining, and I didn't want to get paint on the lining, so I cut the bottom off a bag and pinned the plastic tube inside the skirt to keep paint from getting on the second layer of fabric. Because this is a long skirt, I had to pin it to the shoulders of the mannequin to keep it off the floor and make it easier to work on.

I used sticker paper, and printed out the Sailor Moon planetary symbols (nine of them, times two, one set for each garment), and cut them out with the intention of using the stickers as masks to keep black areas in the paint. They did not stick well to the polyester, so I ended up pinning them to the fabric after all. The skirt was made up of 8 gores, so each section but one has a single symbol in it. I doubled up Uranus and Neptune. They are not all perfectly aligned, they are not all in a line/horizontal, but they are roughly centered in each gore. (This was my personal design choice.)

I was concerned that the purple wouldn't show up well on the black, so I laid down some of the pale lavender first, over each of the symbols, and randomly over the bottom 2/3 of the skirt. I was working outside in the garage with the door open, and the breeze kept my paint from being precise; I don't consider that a bad thing. Then the purple, then the blue (which was much brighter than I expected on the black), then the pink which toned down the blue, then I went in with a little more purple in some places where the blue was still too bright. I tried to keep the paint can strokes moving in crescents, no straight lines at all, and interlocking them (like 2 Cs hooked together). I stopped often, and stood back to look at it -- remember, you can add more paint, but you can't take it off once it's on!

Once I was satisfied with it, I got my stiff stencil brush (you can use an old toothbrush) and white acrylic paint, and spattered on "stars" using my thumb on the bristles. A little paint on the tips will make little stars, a lot of paint will make larger spatter and streaks -- practice on paper if you're not sure how it's going to look. Again, once it's on, it doesn't come off! Go slow, step back often, and stop when you're satisfied with the look.

You can kinda see the plastic bag
between the skirt and the liner.

I didn't remove the masks until the paint was dry, and saw that the masks were far from perfect. Still awesome, though!

I moved the skirt to a hanger and put the blouse on the mannequin and repeated the whole thing. I also had to cover a brooch on the blouse (with painter's tape) because I didn't want to get any paint on it.

The blouse was a different weight of polyester than the skirt, and it took the paint a little differently. The colors aren't quite as bright, but I didn't want to use too much paint and make the fabric really stiff. This is paint, not dye, it's definitely making the fabric stiffer. That's something to consider when you try this.

Painter's tape covering the brooch.

The hardest part about this was getting the symbols pinned on. Without those, it would have gone even faster. As it was, this was a morning's work to complete. I could wear this tonight, if I had an event to wear it to. The paint dries very quickly.

Both of the pieces I painted are Dry Clean Only. I don't know how well this technique would hold up to washing, I don't know how well it would hold up to dry cleaning... When I have to answer that question I'll update here.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I love the cloudy look of the nebulae, all the stars, and how the Sailor Moon symbols are there, but are kinda stealthy about it. And I love that it was easy to do, and took me less than a day to complete. Quick projects always make you feel like you got something done, right?

Both pieces, with the masks removed, ready for a night out.

I hope my process is relatively clear. I wish I'd taken more photos. (It really has been a day...) I'd like to do another skirt, a shorter one (long skirts aren't practical for everyday), and if I do, I'll amend this with more photos.