This month, I am so stoked to bring you an extra-special guest post PLUS the biggest Creatures of Light giveaway yet! As many of you saw, earlier this month I attended Electric City Comicon, hosted by the Anderson County Library System in South Carolina. There I got to moderate a panel with three fantastic SFF authors, judge the Fan Art Contest, and do some super-fun live-drawing for an excitable peanut gallery. It was a great event, but the biggest thrill for me, hands down, was seeing the legendary Sadie by Design cosplay Queen Mona.
Look at this gown! Look at it! Look at her crown! Her pendant! Her hair! Her freckles! From the moment Sadie told me she was thinking of cosplaying Mona, I knew she would be absolutely perfect, but I never expected to be this blown away by her work. Her friend and fellow cosplayer Virginia also showed up in a spot-on rendition of Mae.
My heart, y’all. I think many authors would agree that the ultimate dream is seeing artwork inspired by our books. I spent the day in a sort of foggy high, grinning and clapping every time Sadie glided elegantly through the event. Unsurprisingly, she won second place in the Adult Cosplay Contest. And now she’s been gracious enough to break down her process for you and provide some insights into how she meticulously and lovingly created such fantastic cosplay.
And to make things EXTRA special, we’ve collaborated to bring you the epic CREATURES OF LIGHT PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY! One lucky winner will receive a signed trilogy set from me, two stunning photo prints of Sadie’s cosplay, and a handful of CoL bookmarks and stickers. Check out all the details and enter to win at the end of this post!
Now it’s my honor to introduce Sadie from Sadie by Design---take it all in below the jump!
Cosplay Breakdown: The Making of Mona Alastaire’s Coronation Dress
I had the pleasure of meeting Emily B. Martin at Electric City Comic Con 2017. Her books were an easy sale for me because they had female protagonists and were written by a local author, but she also makes her own cover art and fan art for her stories! I’m definitely guilty of buying books at conventions then taking forever to read them, but I devoured this story. It was agonizing waiting for the final installment, Creatures of Light, to come out. With her amazing storytelling skills, inspiring female leaders, and fantastic character design, I knew that I had to cosplay from her books. Thus the Mona project began.
Why Choose Mona?
You may wonder what made me settle on Mona over the other wonderful ladies in the novels. I think there is a bit of Gemma, Mae, and Mona inside all of us, but Mona really spoke to my soul. The inner growth that Mona experiences throughout the course of the trilogy is truly touching. I personally have not always been the greatest at expressing my personal feelings, and am still learning this. I also feel like I have gone through a wonderful journey of true self-discovery over the last five years of my life as well.
There are so many versions of Mona being a Queen of Lumen Lake but also of fashion, and it took me a while to settle on her coronation gown as the design to bring to life.
Sourcing the material is often the most tedious part of making a cosplay. It is an emotional and budgetary investment that can take longer than creating the costume itself. Mona wears a lot of jewelry, and it took a lot of time to find the perfect material for each piece of this outfit. I did my best to link to the different websites or products that were used for this where applicable.
The Making of Mona
The bolero was the first bit of this costume that I tackled. Even though the dress is beautiful, I’ve had my eye on the fabric I made this from for over a year at All About Fabrics in Anderson, SC. It was so exciting to finally have an excuse to buy it.
The construction of this jacket was actually really simple. I used Simplicity 2442 for the base pattern, which had 4 pieces. The only modification I made was to lengthen the sleeves from a ¾ sleeve to a full length sleeve. The pattern calls for a lining, and since the fabric I chose was just opposite colors on the wrong side, I used the same fabric reversed to line the jacket.
This dress was a monster just from the sheer amount of fabric required for her train, which was not an optional feature. I spliced two patterns together to create this dress. I used the top of Simplicity 2442 and the skirt from Vogue 2788. The patterns actually didn’t need any modification to work well when attached to each other. I did lengthen the dress about 4 inches because I’m quite tall, 5’8”.
The real work on this dress came from adding the trims. The bodice pearls were easy to sew into the seams of the dress from the way they were constructed. The bottom pearl trim was extremely frustrating because the pearls got in the way of the needle, which caused us the breaking of about 8 needles during the process of adding this hem.
The final detail was the lace, which was my “challenge yourself to do something new” on this project. I really avoid hand sewing where I can, and this required a lot of it. Luckily, my friend Jon, owner of Jon Pierce Fashions, and Sybil, White Knight Cosplay, had a hand sewing party with me. They not only taught me how to apply a lace applique, but helped me get this detail knocked out as a team in about two hours.
No cosplay, but especially, no Mona cosplay is complete without accessories.
The item I spent the most time searching Etsy for was her signature pearl. The largest pearl ever found in Lumen Lake. I definitely wanted it to be real. I liked this process because through my searching I learned a lot about pearls that I didn’t know. I ended up purchasing a fireball pearl that is a freshwater pearl, and it is about the size of my large toenail (~17mm wide x 32mm long).
Emily's note: The royal pearl is one of my favorite parts about Sadie's ensemble--I love its natural irregularity, just like Mona's would be, and I appreciate the use of your toenail to gauge the correct size, based on Mae's first observation: "an iridescent pearl the size of my toenail."
The pearl necklace she wears was a combination of a necklace pre-bought on Amazon and adding additional pendants and beading to finish the look. Her belt was also the same red pendant added to some pearl stranding that simply wraps around her waist and clasps at the red pendant.
The earrings, wig, and crown were all purchased from Amazon. The tiara was an extra special adventure in shopping as well. I have learned there are thousands of tiaras available on Amazon, and you will eventually find what you need if you search long enough. I don’t want to admit how much time I spent looking for a tiara that looked like a cresting wave with pearls on it. I love that with Emily’s input, I was able to find a tiara with exactly 12 pearls on it to represent the twelve islands, and it was absolutely perfect to finish my look.
The Completed Look
I wanted to take a moment to thank Emily for many different things. 1. For letting me internet stalk you when you barely knew more about me than that girl you briefly met at ECCC. 2. For always taking the time to respond to my endless questions through reading your books and the making of this cosplay. 3. For inspiring myself and many other young readers. This never would have been possible without you. You’re the best!
I still plan to make the scepter for this costume, and do several other more fitting photoshoots in the future. This is hands down my favorite outfit I have made for myself to date. I also hope to bring some of Mona’s other looks to life in the future, but for now please enjoy the amazing photos by Scott Thomason and Linc Williams below.
Bonus picture with Virginia, Quercus V, as Mae.
A million thanks to you, Sadie! Your work is absolutely stunning, and it's amazing to see the whole process laid out. And now, for the...
Creatures of Light Prize Pack Giveaway!
It’s the biggest Creatures of Light giveaway yet! Enter up to six times to win a prize pack containing a signed trilogy set, two photo prints of Sadie by Design’s Queen Mona cosplay, and a handful of bookmarks and stickers. Contest runs from Friday, August 31st to Friday, September 7th at midnight EST. Entrants must provide a valid email address to be entered. Winner will be contacted privately for a mailing address at the end of the contest. Unfortunately, due to shipping costs, this contest is limited to the United States only.
August Art Roundup
I produced a ton of artwork this month, largely thanks to the inspiration from Sadie and the cosplayers at Electric City Comicon. One of them mentioned she'd like to cosplay Gemma but needed more references of her wardrobe, which kicked off a ten-day long costume design spree of all my major protagonists. Other August work included a mashup of Dhonielle Clayton's The Belles and Vogue magazine's Beyonce cover, and fan art of Sadie and Virginia in their cosplay attire.
Emily B. Martin
Author and Illustrator