Santa Con 2017 – Plainfield IL

They made their outfit!

When speaking about Cosplay to the greater world, we often cite groups of people who have loved to dress up in costumes.  Among the Ren Faires and Trekkers and military re-enactors we count as the earliest types of cosplayers are folks who love to dress up as Santa near the holidays.  So, when a Santa Claus “convention” appears in our hometown, we just had to attend!  We attended the latest edition, held on December 16th, 2017.

SantaCon has been running in downtown Plainfield IL for 5 years now.  Spanning over one evening, it’s to raise contributions for a local food pantry and to spread Santa cheer to downtown Plainfield IL.  There was a group photo, a Santa costume contest, and also a pub crawl.

Larry, the SantaCon organizer, and some elves!

Larry Ulfig, the organizer of SantaCon and lead Santa, says that 600 Santas and Elves were expected this year!    There are no rules for SantaCon, per se, other than to treat any children very well (and possibly provide a treat) and to “not be that Santa” by being disorderly.  With so many people dressed as Santa or elves, one bad Santa could ruin the event for all.  Larry stressed that this is NOT an ugly sweater event, but actually dressing up as Santa (or the elves or other related Christmas characters).

In fact there were lots of elves, Christmas trees, snowmen/snowladies, and more!  And of course, lots and lots of Santas.  As a cosplay site, we were on the lookout for folks who made their own outfits, and we were not disappointed. Though many of the Santa outfits were store bought, people did spend a lot to heavily embellish them with lights and more.

It was very cold the night SantaCon was held so layers in your costume were appreciated, especially waiting for the group photo to be taken. The food collected for the pantry filled a box truck which is that the event was all about.  Many of the local restaurants and bars took part in the pub crawl and it was a very merry and well behaved event.  Every place was packed with Santa and friends.  Enjoy the pictures of beautiful downtown Plainfield IL (home of Sew Much Cosplay™) and think about joining the fun next year by following their Facebook page!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pattern Round Up – Star Wars Version!

Hey everyone!  It’s time for another Pattern Round Up!  This is where we look at commercial patterns and let you know that with some slight adjustments, you could use these patterns as a jumping off point for your next cosplay.  Let’s get started with Rey, from the latest trilogy!

This pattern appeared in our Game of Thrones week because of the middle design.  However, the one on the right, looks similar enough to Rey (pictured right) that you could make it work.  The belt is not correct, but could be figured out.  Click here to buy Simplicity pattern 8074. 

This is a much better option for Rey because it comes with the belt and wrist cuff pattern in the package.  But, you don’t get the options to make the other views in the package like the Simplicity one, as this McCalls pattern only has one pattern inside. Click here to buy McCalls pattern M7421.

Staying with The Force Awakens, here’s a Kylo Ren that’s pretty great.  You just need a lightsaber and a mask, and you have it ready to go! Click here to buy McCalls pattern M7422. 

Want to be a Jedi?  Well this Simplicity pattern has a lot of the options you will need.  The outfit is a dead ringer for the Jedi clothing, and the robe just needs wider sleeves, as shown here on the right on Obi Wan Kenobi.  Click here to buy Simplicity pattern 5480. 

Want to have a little fun with your cosplay and make it your own?  This 3 pack of outfits play off of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and a Stormtrooper.  While not to everyone’s tastes, and you certainly won’t get into the 501st with one of these, they are fun. Click here to buy Simplicity pattern 8201. 

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Exclusive Interview with Albin Johnson, Founder of the 501st Legion

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

Over the past 20 years, the organization called the 501st Legion (AKA Vader’s Fist) has become the premiere cosplaying organization for fans of the Star Wars films.  The Legion charter even states they are formed to facilitate the use of costumes in Star Wars related events.  The name of the organization started out as fictional, but in recognition of the dedication of the group Lucasfilm incorporated the name into official Star Wars products.   The 501st Legion is one of the most respected costuming organizations in the world, which now counts over 10,000 members.

We had a chance to catch up with Albin Johnson for an exclusive Sew Much Cosplay™ interview.

Tell us a little about why you started the 501st Legion, AKA Vader’s Fist?

It was the late nineties and I was recovering from a traumatic leg injury when the Star Wars re-releases came out. People who remember that remember how exciting it was to have Star Wars back. My buddy Tom Crews and I couldn’t stop talking about it and the topic wandered to the Stormtroopers and how cool it would be to actually wear that armor. So we dropped a ton of money on some armor we found online at the time and took it for a spin. The photos I posted on the early Geocities site were so well received and so many other costumers sent their pics in, I thought ‘hey, why not post photos like it’s a fictional military unit in the Star Wars universe?’ I honestly thought a cool back-story would make for a story-space I always imagined the Stormtroopers occupying but never had in the movies or even the books.

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

Vader was always strolling along in the movies and just pointing at some troopers standing around and saying ‘come with me!’, I thought ‘what if that’s some secret, off-the-books, elite unit he always has on stand-by? Hey, what’s THEIR story?’ So Vader’s Fist was born as a concept and my newfound friends who were costumers really seemed to dig it.

As a cosplay site, we get lots of inquiries from 501st members for education on sewing for their costumes. What kind of education for costuming/cosplay does the 501st provide?

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

As an organization, there is no formal training offered in anything – people jump right in and start assembling armor and costumes best as they can. But as a community, there is a rich tradition of exchanging tips, ideas, and techniques on everything from sewing to casting plastic pieces to building props. The best route to go as a new member is to put up your hand and ask. The Legion forums are teeming with talented people eager to help.

Your group is known for having very high standards for cosplaying.  Why is that?

Once a fan puts on a costume, it becomes obvious just how privileged it makes you feel to be part of the Star Wars universe. When you see the reaction from fans, there’s a natural inclination to want to really ‘nail it’ on the performance. The first sets of armor and costumes were put together with attention to detail, photo references, techniques at hand at the time. But we’ve had twenty years to get the most accurate information and refine our techniques. There is so much pride in what we’re doing, and in what Star Wars means to us, that it shows in the love for detail in the costumes. And we know that if we’re representing the Star Wars universe we have to bring our ‘A’ game.

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

What do you think the biggest draw is to be part of the 501st?

A sense of community, a social family there to support one another. There’s also the draw of being identified with something larger than one’s self, the idea that your Star Wars character you’re portraying is not just cool as a character but has a connection to a larger fictional character in the Star Wars universe: a cool military unit of the Empire.

Your organization has amazing reach across the world.  What made you think of dividing into local garrisons?

It became obvious early on that the sheer size of a club would collapse under its own weight if not divided up into meaningful units. No one works hard for some leader way off somewhere who’s running the whole show. But they’ll work harder for their local community, and by extension will support a larger unit that gives them support. I just recalled how the Roman Empire was organized, and that gave me ideas for the naming scheme of units as well as the idea of where their loyalties would be. The thought was that folks could identify with whatever level they liked, whether it was the vast Legion or their local unit, and they’d still be contributing.

photo courtesy Albin Johnson – The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

What are your favorite characters to cosplay as?

Plain ol’ Stormtrooper. He’s just as cool to me now as he always was. There’s just something iconic about the costume and about the character.

What is your favorite part of cosplaying a Star Wars character?

My favorite part of costuming as a Star Wars character is representing Star Wars and all the awesome magic it represents. When you are seen as an ambassador of the galaxy far, far away it’s a rush to feel the fan energy. Just one look from a child and you’re hooked. You can feel the Force in a very real way.

What impact do you think the 501st Legion has had on the pop culture convention circuit?

I hope we’ve made a sizable impact with our presence. I certainly think we’ve created a strong template for costuming organizations to follow and innovate. Conventions used to be a place where costumers acted individually and were merely consumers of the offerings at conventions. Now costuming organizations are content-providers, entertainers, and community activists in charity and convention activities. I think the Legion has certainly raised the profile of Star Wars as a genre at conventions by letting people meet and interact with the characters. And I hope we’ve helped other groups do the same for their own costuming groups.

What makes you the proudest about the 501st Legion over the last 20 years?

photo courtesy The 501st Legion – www.501st.com

I’m proudest of what I’ve seen our tens of thousands of members accomplish over the last two decades. I’ve been a ring-side witness to people growing, connecting, and giving in ways they never knew they were capable of. It has been an enormous validation on what Star Wars can mean when done in the right spirit and what the human race is capable of.

 

Many thanks to Albin Johnson and the 501st Legion for the interview!

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Check Out the Star Wars Cosplayers We’ve Featured!

Welcome back to our STAR WARS week coverage!  Here on the Sew Much Cosplay™ blog, we have featured a few Star Wars cosplays as part of our Cosplay Conversations.  Here’s some you can look back on!

Lisa Hale of Haelstorm Cosplay and Design

Tim Harrison of HDC Cosplay and Fabrication

Beth Grimes and her Pun Cosplay

We are always looking for more cosplayers to feature on our site.  Be sure to check out our Submissions page and reach out to us today!

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Cosplay Conversation – John DiMauro

Tell us about yourself:

Name: John DiMauro
Location: Ballston Lake, NY
Website: www.garrisonexcelsior.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/stormtroopa/
Twitter: @jtdimauro
Cosplay Affiliations: 501st Legion

About this specific Cosplay:
Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?
My primary costume is a TIE Fighter pilot from A New Hope. I’ve always wanted to be a pilot, and TIE Pilots look really cool. I’m also working on a Tusken Raider costume, and I have the parts to make a Stormtrooper sitting in a box on my work table.

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?
I didn’t make the pilot per say. I got all of the parts already assembled. The most I had to do was install the shoulder straps, and fix up the helmet with fans and more padding. It took about a year to get everything together though. The Tusken I am making completely from scratch – with the exception of the helmet kit.  It’s actually been a few years in the making since time to work on it just hasn’t happened.

What was your biggest challenge?
Sewing the robes for the Tusken Raider. I haven’t touched a sewing machine since Home Economics class back in 8th grade (30 something years ago).

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?
For the pilot, I spent about $800 all together. The Tusken has been significantly cheaper. Not counting some tools, it has been less than $200. The Stormtrooper armor I got at a discounted pre-release price from Anovos. It was about $350 for everything except boots and blaster. I still need to purchase those, and a new belt. That should be about another $250.

What special techniques did you use?
None so far! I’ve just been kind of winging it. Luckily, Tusken Raiders aren’t known for their finesse and construction techniques.

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?
The best thing about portraying a character in the 501st is the interaction you have with kids. Seeing their faces light up when they see you – or even better, when they are too scared to approach you at first, but you end up being their best friend and they continuously come to you for a high 5.

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?
Different fans and audio system in the helmet.

About Cosplay in general:

How often do you Cosplay?
About once a month at least.

How many cosplay do you do?
Just the one right now.

What do you want to make next?
I want to finish the Stormtrooper and Tusken. I also have plans on a 181st TIE Fighter pilot, an X-Wing Pilot, and a Rogue One Rebel soldier.

Favorite cosplay moment?
Walking through Star Wars Celebration in Orlando with 99 other pilots.

Favorite fandoms to follow?
Star Wars, Marvel, Firefly, BSG, Doctor Who

What sewing machine do you sew on?
My mother’s old 1970-something Kenmore.

Thanks for sharing your cosplay with us, John!  Want to be featured on our site?  Check out our Submissions page and send us an email! 

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Cosplay Coversation: Fox Arcada

Tell us about yourself:

Name: Ashley
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Website: http://foxarcada.wixsite.com/cosplay
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoxArcada/
Instagram: @FoxArcada

About this specific Cosplay:

Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?

Raven has been one of my favorite characters since I was 8 years old. Even back then, I was begging my parents to buy me the Halloween costume for her because I just HAD to be Raven. They never did, and I kind of gave up on being her until someone I was hanging out with said I’d make a really good Raven and I was like “Wait… Yeah, I really want to be her. I’ve always wanted to be her.” And so, I finally completed my childhood goal of becoming Raven, at 21 years old.

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

This one only took me about three days overall, it was a fairly easy construction, I just had to wait a while to get materials in.

What was your biggest challenge?

The wig. I was being very cheap with this one and didn’t want to buy a lacefront wig, but also didn’t want the cheap-looking false widow’s peaks that most Raven wigs have. So, I bought a wig in the right color without bangs on eBay and trimmed it to the correct length, and then I made the fake lacefront widow’s peak with tulle and gluing the excess hair that I’d trimmed off onto the tulle piece. I’d never tried something like this, and it was kind of scary, but it turned out alright for a first try! I’d like to go back and fix it up a bit, but I was proud of my efforts.

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?

I wanted to spend under $100, because I was already making a competition costume for the con I was making her for, and I couldn’t afford to make Raven really expensive, as well. I ended up spending about $70 total.

What special techniques did you use?

Custom “Fake lacefront” wig styling, clay working, stretch stitching.

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?

Definitely the most satisfying part was just being Raven, and fulfilling my childhood dreams. What made me most proud was my cloak, though. It’s so beautiful, especially in motion.

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

I’d like to fix the wig and keep it a little longer, I trimmed it a bit shorter than I really wanted.

About Cosplay in general:

How often do you Cosplay?

Pretty often, I go to cons and photoshoots throughout the year, and at least get into cosplay once a month.

How many cosplays do you do?

I’ve done 24, but only 15 of those are still ones in my con/photography rotation.

What do you want to make next?

I’m gearing up to work on Widowmaker from Overwatch, Empress C.C. from Code Geass, and Keith from Voltron right now.

Favorite cosplay moment?

My friends and I were cosplaying from League of Legends, and so we were all in very cumbersome, very warm costumes, but we had to go outside in the hot Georgia summer sun for a photoshoot. We suffered through it for a little more than an hour, as we had more photos to take after the shoot was officially over. So, we all finally go inside and start moaning and screaming, then one of us sits down and realizes the floor is cold, so we all end up laying down on the floor, basically sob-laughing because the floor feels so good. Bonus: we got some excellent death pictures as we lay there, actually dying.

Favorite fandoms to follow?

Danganronpa, Voltron, League of Legends, My Hero Academia, Kakegurui

What sewing machine do you sew on?

I use a Brother PC420.

What materials do you like using?

Faux fur, faux leather, and spandex are my favorites. I like matte satin, too.

What materials do you want to try?

I kind of want to work with PVC and Neoprene, but I can’t think of any cosplays that would suit those fabrics at the moment, so I’ll have to wait on it.

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

EVA foam and worbla. I know they’re easy in theory, but I have the hardest time with them.

What techniques are you dying to learn?

Proper armor making. I can make gauntlets and small things but I have no idea how to even begin tackling a full armor build.

Thanks for sharing your cosplay with us, Ashley!  Want to be featured on our site?  Check out our Submissions page and send us an email! 

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Interview with Fantasy Photographer Bonnie McCaffery

We sat down with Bonnie McCaffery after seeing her incredible fantasy and magical portraits online.
Bonnie is a portrait photographer and artist from Hawley, PA. You can see more of her incredible work at www.BonnieMcCaffery.com/photography.

What made you decide to incorporate fantasy style photos into your regular photography work?

I love Magic and fantasy. There’s something about the beautiful and slightly surreal that I find intriguing. I’m an artist. The camera and Photoshop are the tools I use just as a painter uses Paint and a paintbrush. After taking a bunch of model photos, I have a collection of my own Stock photos that I rearrange to create a scene. I love being able to create a piece of Art for someone that includes themselves.

On average, how long does it take to edit one of your photos to what we see on the screen?

I might spend a couple of hours playing with a photo or I could spend days. The ones online don’t have to be perfect. Those for print need to be more refined so I might spend several days on those.

We know you from the fiber arts world, where you are a celebrated quilter and author. Do you make any of the dresses in the photos? If not, where do your dresses come from?

Even as a quilter I had a love of Fairies and Fantasy. I don’t have the passion for sewing that I used to have so I don’t sew anything. Salvation Army, Goodwill, yardsales…those are the places I find costuming. The shape of the garment and the movement of the fabric are what I look for. It doesn’t matter what size it is because I have pinch clips or elastic clips (used to hold an ironing board cover in place) that will hold a dress on a model.

The color of the garment doesn’t matter either because with the Magic of Photoshop, changing a dress color is possible. I also love making the flower crowns.

The flower shawl below was made by gluing artificial flowers to tulle. Her wings are from a bird photo.

For the creativity of “fashion design” I do play with combining elements. The shoulder adornments on this are necklaces I picked up at Walmart. Her headpiece and arm tattoos were Photoshopped in.

What’s your favorite part of this style of photography?

I love taking the photos, making people feel good about themselves. And then sitting down to Photoshop and playing with the photos to make Magic happen. Anything is possible. I can make Magical Fantasy Photos that might not exist in reality.

Have you worked with any cosplayers?

I have not yet worked with cosplayers. It would be so much fun to collaborate with cosplayers who make these awesome costumes and I could set them into a Magical and mystical scene. I’d get to play with their photos and they’d get a beautiful piece of art!

To see some of Bonnie’s videos on how she makes her Magical Portraits, click here!  Be sure to follow her on Facebook too.

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Cosplay Conversation: Devon Bell

Tell us about yourself:
Name: Devon Bell
Location: Calgary
Instagram: @werewolfprincev

Character: Deku (My Hero Academia)

Photos by: Mackenzie Shaw (twitter @magitrash, WyvernPhotography)

Tell us about your cosplay. What was your inspiration?/why did you choose this character?

I decided that I wanted to cosplay Deku pretty quickly after I started reading the series; as a protagonist, he’s very easy to relate to, and it’s not very often I find characters are shown to be both physically strong and broad but also have very round and open faces, so I felt he was a character I’d look good as, as well.

How long did it take to make your Cosplay?

I actually decided to make him fairly last minute, and so I only had about 2-3 weeks to get him done.

What was your biggest challenge?

Building the leg armour was something I really didn’t have much of a plan for and ended up winging completely. Also, I ended up having to make a number of adjustments to the body suit that I hadn’t anticipated.

What was your budget? Approximately how much did you spend?

I didn’t have much of a budget, since I already had almost everything I needed besides the green fabric and a few accessory things. I even had the wig already by the time I got to making the hero suit. In total I think I spent probably between $80-$100 over the course of the entire cosplay? It was spread out, so I’m not entirely sure.

What special techniques did you use?

This cosplay was actually my first time using Worbla, and that was quite the learning curve.

What was the most satisfying about making this Cosplay/What made you proud?

The leg armour was probably the most satisfying, as well as the hood of the suit, which while I have no photo evidence of it, it does actually fit over my head like a real hero mask!

If you had to remake this Cosplay, what would you do differently?

I would probably start with a different suit base; I pieced the pattern together and it ended up being more difficult to fix than I had hoped. I’d also like to think if I made the face mask again it would go a little smoother now that I’ve had some experience with it.

How often do you Cosplay?

As often as I can find cons to get to, but not as often as I would really like considering the amount of time I’ve put into some of my cosplays. I have three local(ish) conventions that I go to and cosplay at every year, and I travel to others when I can manage it.

How many cosplay do you do?

Usually a different cosplay for every day of a con, but that depends on if I’m with a group, or whether I have the funds/time to get something new together.

What do you want to make next?

I have a few cosplays that I have the materials for but haven’t gotten together yet, such as Giorno Giovanna from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and Judal from Magi; I’ve also got a few that I’ve been stewing on but haven’t had the funds to start.

Favorite cosplay moment?

It’s tough to pick any one moment; I’ve been cosplaying for 10 years now, so there’s so many to choose from. In general though, any time I see someone getting really excited by my cosplay, or any time I get to just hang out with my friends in a group cosplay and goof off, those are the moments that make all the hard work worth it.

Favorite fandoms to follow?

I don’t really follow fandoms all that much, but I definitely have some series that I’ll always return to cosplaying from; D.Gray-Man and HunterxHunter are two big ones, as well as Persona 4 and Persona 5 for the group cosplay shenanigans.

What sewing machine do you sew on?

My main sewing machine is a Pfaff that is probably older than I am; it’s the machine I learned to sew on when I was a kid, and it’s tough enough to get through vinyl and stretch leather. Thanks to my mom being a prolific quilter all my life, I’ve also got a back up machine and a serger.

What materials do you like using?

I’m partial to a lovely structured twill for jackets, and while sewing it is a pain, I love the way fake leather looks. I’ve also had some real fun with foam, but in all reality my biggest love is the bargain bin at fabric and craft stores.

What materials do you want to try?

I’ve got some plans that involve LED lights that I hope someday will come to fruition, and I’d love to work more with resin.

What materials do you wish were easier to work with?

Stretch leather and spandex. They look amazing and are comfy to wear, but getting zippers into them is a skill I’m still mastering.

What techniques are you dying to learn?

Prop making; I’ve dabbled in it, but never done anything super elaborate.

Thanks for sharing your cosplay with us, Devon!  Want to be featured on our site?  Check out our Submissions page and send us an email! 

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Check Out These New Geeky Fabric Lines That Debuted at Quilt Market

Cheryl took a very quick tour of some of the booths at Quilt Market, a sewing industry trade show where new fabric lines and machines debut.  Here are just a few of the coolest licensed fabrics she saw at the show!

Justice League has hit the fabric lines with some awesome panels and prints of the DC superhero lines.  You can see on the wall that Wonder Woman is going to have a few solo fabrics too.

How cool is that new ladies of DC print?  Plus the Superfriends panel is sure to make a few folks happy to have classic Flash and Aquaman in the mix.

The Game On line designed by Elizabeth Silver is great for the gamer in your life.

We must have that controller fabric!!  The “cheat code” fabric dots are also pretty great.

The one that really blew us away was the new fabric line for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  Bold in black, red, and grey, the styling of this booth wanted us to take ALL of it home or make it right away!!  We loved the “Chewie, we’re home” welcome mat! The character panel (under the TV) is going to be a bit hit.

This pillow and wallhanging needed to come home with us right now!  This booth also had Cosplayers in it for photos, but Cheryl was not able to catch any because she was running through so quick.  Boba Fett, a Stormtrooper, and Chewbacca were all on hand to take photos with sewing machine and fabric store owners.

We hope you enjoyed seeing some of the new fabrics coming out in the spring at a sewing store near you!

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The Sew Much Cosplay™ Line of Products is Here!

IT’S FINALLY HERE!  The day we have been waiting for has arrived!  The Sew Much Cosplay™ line of products is out and we couldn’t be happier.

The line debuted at a major sewing trade event in Houston, TX called Quilt Market.  It’s not just for quilting as all sorts of sewing vendors are there, and this is the set up and booth by Sew Much Cosplay™!

You can see the new Purple Mage cosplay Cheryl has been working on and teasing over on Instagram for a while, as well as the Steampunk cosplay and Game of Thrones cape that was made recently.   The Purple Mage costume has every single one of the cosplay line of products in it, so we are excited to have it finished for the show.

It’s a real treat to see the products in their retail packaging and in the displays that retailers can order.  Here’s what our Hero Foam looks like in it’s display!  We are super proud of this foam made specifically for cosplay.

Here’s the full display of products!  Including our Power Boost Interlining, Super Structure Foam, Power Shine Glitter and Foils, and yes, that’s a 3D printer that retailers can carry along with the rest of our products!!  How cool is that?

Want to check out the line?  Click HERE to see the line.  Want to see retailers who are picking up the line to buy it? Click HERE to find our list of retailers.  It’s growing every day so check back often. And be sure to ask your independent sewing or comic store to carry it if they are not on the list!

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