Agent Carter & Aspirations of Craftiness

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Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Agent of Awesome.

Are you watching Marvel’s Agent Carter? If yes, awesome, we can still be friends.

If no…well, okay, we can still be friends, but I highly, HIGHLY recommend you get yourself over to your online video purveyor of choice (it’s on HuluPlus and Amazon Prime, go now, this blog will still be here when you get back) and start watching this show about a woman who’s kicking ass, taking names, and saving the world one dude at a time.

Because Agent Carter (the show) – and Agent Carter (the character) – are both awesome.

The show has an 8-episode run this spring, with the finale airing this coming Tuesday (like I said, get on it), and while watching the penultimate episode, I made a decision.

I’m going to make myself an Agent Carter costume for Halloween.

For those of you who haven’t done Halloween with me in the past, here’s the thing – for about 18 years straight, I was either a witch or a vampire or a witchy vampire or something similar to one or both of those. Only in the last couple years have I started doing “costumes,” and they’re generally the kind where it’s October 25th and I suddenly realize I have plans, and run to the closet and start rooting around for something I can wear.

“Rachel,” I hear you saying, “Calm down. It’s only February.”

Well, perfection takes time, and the sheer awesomeness that is Agent Peggy Carter deserves NOTHING LESS THAN PERFECTION. I am not going to half-ass this costume. I am going to whole-ass it. And I have a fair amount of ass with which to do so.

First up: Iconic Peggy Carter red fedora. 

Fucking. Iconic.

Fucking. Iconic.

First step was locating the red fedora. Because red fucking fedora. I posted a link to Amazon on my Facebook page, and (in a thread that’s currently 80 comments deep and still growing) asked for advice as to which of the many available choices most closely matched Agent Peggy Carter’s. I was thrilled when one of my friends – apparently he takes his costuming pretty seriously – was able to find a hat that was as near as anything we could find to something that a) ought to fit my gigantic head (HOLD THE COMMENTS ON THAT ONE, PEANUT GALLERY!) and b) was the right kind of fedora. Apparently there are multiple kinds of fedoras and this was the one that had the most-matching of brims:

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Pretty goddamn fucking iconic.

Hat. May need some doctoring vis a vis the band to get the colors right, but otherwise, check. It’s an XXL, so it may fit my giant head. Also? It was the last one the seller had in stock. 

Click. Buy. Done.

Now, panic set in, because step two is a little tougher.

Step two: The perfect 1940s skirtsuit.

Two issues, here.

Issue one:
I get really, irrationally T’d off when I read those “looks like” fashion/decor pieces that say, “Hey, this $50 Ikea lamp is *just like* this $600 Restoration Hardware lamp!” and you look and it’s like, no, the Ikea lamp is an Ikea lamp and the Restoration Hardware lamp has visibly better construction, higher quality materials, and the details of craftsmanship that make it cost an extra five hundred and fifty bucks. (Is it worth the extra cost? Probably not, from all points of view that make fiscally responsible sense. From a design standpoint? You are not getting the same thing.)

Given this, I do not want some knock-off cheap “vintage” suit that is sort-of-but-not-really-the-same as the awesomeness that is Peggy Carter’s blue skirt suit. (You saw the awesomeness of that skirt suit in the above pic, right? Because go back and look. It’s freaking awesome.) I want a suit that is as close as I can possibly freaking get to that awesome suit without spending a fortune.

After a bit of reading, I learned that the best option was, therefore, an actual vintage skirt suit from the 1940s, preferably sourced from some kind of thrift or vintage store. Which brings us to…

Issue #2:
As mentioned above, I have got a fair amount of ass with which to whole-ass the execution of this costume. And while I fully intend on continuing my healthy eating streak, so may have slightly less ass by the time we get to the end of October, I know damn well I’m not going to be fitting into any 1940s-era clothing any time soon. Modcloth and other vintagey stores just weren’t cutting it – the lapels weren’t right, the material didn’t look right…

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That’s right. Ebay, baby.

…and then I hit on ebay. Now. Compare this silhouette to the suit in the first photo.

Per-fect.

(Okay. As near to perfect as I’m going to find. And the pattern itself is for plus sizes. SCORE.)

There’s just one hitch.

This is going to require sewing. The last time I did an honest-to-goodness sewing project, I was about ten years old, and it was a puppet or something. You know: cut out the felt, sew around the edges, presto, done.

Luckily, while wandering the internet in an insomnia-induced haze earlier this morning (what, you think I have time to write blogs like this on a regular day?) I found this site, which says it shows you how to sew in step-by-step videos that start off with like, 20 videos about how to get the right equipment and how to cut a thing before you even get to the point of oh hey here’s some fabric and a thing you can make.

I keep telling myself, I have eight months. That’s like, one or two videos a day, with time for practice projects. I have eight months. I can learn how to sew a thing in eight months. Eight whole months!

If I repeat this enough times, I may actually start to believe it.

Added bonus: my mom just emailed me in reply to a note I sent her last night and said she will help me, so if I run into real problems, help is only a 2-hour drive away.

So. Suit. Sort-of sorted. I’ll have to figure out how to pick a fabric, but um, I’m going to bask in the achievement of having found the suit pattern for a day or two first. And please don’t ask me about my blouse plans yet, ‘cuz I haven’t got any. (If you have ideas, though, feel free to share…)

All of which brings us to…

Part, the Third: Heels In Which To Kick Ass.

Now we have a real issue. Thanks to last year’s back injury, I will not be wearing any stunning 2-3″ heels any time in the near future, including eight months from now. Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent.

BUT.

A month or so ago, when I was having a really rotten day, a friend of mine (bless her ever-loving heart) sent me a gift certificate for Zappo’s. And in an hour-long trawl across the interwebs this morning at 4am, I discovered…

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Close-e-bloody-nuff.

…these absolute stunners.

They’re not as high or as strappy as Peggy’s fantastic pumps, but you know what? Contrary to my earlier rant on delusional “this is actually that” cost-saving measures, I will compromise on aesthetics if it means not setting myself back into screaming (literally screaming) agony by re-aggravating my back injury. And these really, really aren’t that far off.

So there you have it. Obviously, this is going to be a hell of a trick to pull off. Obviously, I am nervous as f*ck about whether I’ll be able to do it at all. But I keep reminding myself: I have eight months till Halloween, I have a mother who made all her own clothes when she was younger, and even if this ends up being a complete disaster, well…

Fucking. Iconic.

Gratuitous iconic hat pic.

…I’ll still have the shoes and the hat.

 

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12 responses to “Agent Carter & Aspirations of Craftiness

  1. aboleyn (@aboleyn)

    I am so excited to see this all put together. You are going to make an excellent SSR agent.

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      *hugs* Aw thanks! 😀 At the rate I’m going I may be ready for a little trial a bit earlier than Halloween after all. 😉 (The Pin Curl Experiment went pretty well earlier this evening, now if my hair would just get a bit longer!)

  2. That’s so awesome that you found a vintage pattern! And good luck with learning to sew! I’ve tried to sew before and had aspirations one time (I found half a dozen patterns I had bought that were inspired by the LotR movies but never made any of them.) I’m pretty bad at it; Johan is quite a bit better. My mom can sew and has sewn clothes and costumes for me in the past.
    I love the hat and the shoes! Very cute. I understand about the heels too; since I broke my ankle I haven’t wanted to even attempt heels. It wouldn’t be worth the risk of re-injuring yourself.

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      OUCH re: the ankle. Yeah. I gave away all but two pairs of heels when I got hurt, I just couldn’t part with the ones I’ve got (funnily enough one pair is a very 40s-esque polka-dot peep-toe) but I haven’t been able to wear them. These ones are just 1 3/4″ high so hopefully it’ll be OK for a little while; one nice thing about spreading this out over such a long period of time is that if I end up needing to get some flat mary jane style blue shoes I can have those as a backup. 🙂

      I cannot WAIT for the hat to show up. I told the girls at work I may just start wearing it in to the office every day. Then again I have to keep it nice, and we all know how I am with nice things… 😉

  3. Niiiice. I think I’ll wait until Agent Carter comes to netflix because I’m feeling cheap at the moment… Mostly because I’ve recently bought a lot of fabric. Wool. Silk. Fleece.

    I’m very excited for you – I’ve found it useful to have an amazing project to motivate me when I’m adding skills. And this project? This is a worthy one, indeed. And if you play it right, at the end you won’t have a costume. You’ll have a gorgeous vintage styled suit that you know how to make, and so can have it in several colors that suit you. And in the mean time, your crash course in sewing is going to benefit your wardrobe in a variety of ways.

    I’m jealous of the shoes, btw. And the hat? You’re going to rock the hat. I might be a little jealous of the hat, too.

    If you need help, you know where I live. We could have a sewing party. I love sewing parties. Not that I’ve ever been to one, or hosted one, but I have a very fertile imagination and so I know I’ll love it in advance. 🙂

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Haha. I’m glad you have faith in my sewing abilities…especially as I can’t seem to find a box full of transparent bobbins without being reminded they exist! Just WAIT till you see what I found that’s in tomorrow’s post. So. Freaking. Perf.

  4. So cool. What a great idea.

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Thanks, Brian. 😀 I’m really excited. I’ve been doing a little more visual arts/design type stuff since I moved (writing Short Frictions was great but there’s always a recovery period after a project like that) so between this and the painting it’s nice to have a non-verbal outlet or two! 😀 I think half the fun is going to be doing blog updates on the progress. It’ll keep me honest. 😉

  5. The problem I had with the red hat was that it reminded me of Carmen Sandeigo, a video game character who wore a red fedora and overcoat as she traveled around the world. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmen_Sandiego

    IIRC, The red hat only appeared in the first episode of Agent Carter.

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Haha, C.D….that’s hilarious because while I was researching I came across a couple of articles that pointed out the Carmen Sandiego link, too. Re: it only being in one episode, well, it’s not like the SSR has uniforms, and WHY WOULD SOMEONE NOT BUY A HAT LIKE THAT IF THEY HAD THE CHANCE? 😀

  6. Hey, I am currently constructing a Peggy cosplay, hopefully to wear to Oz Comic-Con in September, and as someone who also has back problems and thus can’t wear Peggy’s normal heels, I was wondering if you could tell me the brand of the shoes you have here? They look like they’d just be low enough for me to wear, and I don’t really feel like browsing 355 pages of women’s shoes on Zappo if I don’t have to!

    • Rachel / @girl_onthego

      Hi Ella! Just a second, I’ll go check the box…

      The brand is Gabriella Rocha, and the shoe is “Ginger” in blue suede. I bought them a while ago so not sure if they’ll have the exact same shoe, but I hope you find something! 🙂

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