After a brief holiday hiatus (Happy New Year Everyone!) I'm back to work on Zelda, Twilight Princess. I've finally finished the ribbon chain links and have moved onto the elaborate designs she has on her base dress. Unlike other cosplayers, I don't trust myself to draw directly onto satin fabric, and especially not to paint! Even with stencils, I have the uncanny ability to leech paint in places it doesn't belong. Therefore, I often use Ink Jet Printable Fusible Fabric Cotton sheets to print and iron on designs. I then sew (or embroider over them) to add stability and effect.
For Zelda, I deviated away from the printable cotton sheets that I usually use ($7.99 for 3 sheets) and went with Craft Fuse Iron-on backing ($3.50 for 5 sheets) . I've found they print just as well - although not originally intended for printers. Warning: Please make sure to always use inkjet printers (and not laser printers) to print out designs on fusible fabric. Laser jet printers use heat to print and will cause a big, gooey mess - possibly ruining your printer.
I had planned to fully hand-embroider over each design (since I don't have an embroidery machine). I did so with my Rapunzel skirt, which took 3 days, but it took me over 10 hours to embroidor just one of Zelda's smaller designs. Typically, I enjoy embroidering, because it's relaxing and I can lsiten to audio books while I work. However, I soon realized that hand-embroidering my way around the entire 127" circumference of the dress would cost me about 200 hours of my life (which could be used for other things, I imagine).
Because of this realization, I decided to only sew the outline of each design and paint the parts which are filled in. The fusible sheets are fairly paint-friendly, and the sewn outlines do a good job corraling the paint so that it doesn't wander. For the painted parts, I mixed Folkart Sterling Silver paint with medium textile base (whenever you want to use a paint shade that's not available in fabric paint, you can simply mix equal parts of acrylic paint with a medium textile base). I also mixed in a spash of clear glitter paint to give it a sparkly effect. Considering that the official Zelda action figure has absolutely no color on designs, and yet artists have been known to add silver or gold, I figured the glitter couldn't hurt.
So, this process will probably take another week or two. I'll post again when it's time for the overlay.