…And Sewing Is Half the Battle! offers a variety of programming at conventions (or anywhere else we’re wanted). We present on both costuming and non-costuming topics. Here’s a master list of presentations currently offered by “…And Sewing Is Half The Battle!”  (We add new ones periodically, so check back! We also can provide programming on specific topics by request.)

Panels include a slideshow visual presentation, in-depth discussion of the topic, samples and/or live demos, and Q&A. There is no cost for panels.

Workshops include the above information, as well as a hands-on project for participants to complete during the workshop. There is a materials cost for workshops. Price listed is per participant.

COSTUMING PROGRAMMING

THE ART OF FOUND OBJECT COSTUMING – Panel; 2 hours.
It’s a common dilemma:  You want to cosplay, but you don’t have much cash.  Or you don’t have access to a sewing machine, and wouldn’t know what to do with it if you did.  Or the con is in two days, and you don’t have time to make something from scratch.  Sound familiar?  If so, this panel is for you!  We’ll show you costumes made for less than $10, plus discuss character selection, the process of deconstructing a costume, and how to build a complete costume out of things you have around the house.

PATTERNS LIE! AND OTHER USEFUL SEWING FACTS – Panel; 2 hours.
Learning to sew can be daunting, especially if you’ve never had formal instruction. We’re here to help! In this panel, we’ll cover selecting and reading a pattern, choosing fabric, cutting, pinning, sewing, pressing, finishing hems, and more — all without complicated sewing terminology! You’ll be sewing like a pro in no time. Bring your questions!

MAKEUP FOR COSTUMING – Panel; 2 hours.
No costume is complete without appropriate makeup! Makeup can make you truly resemble your character and look better in photos. Learn how to look more masculine or more feminine, give yourself enormous animé eyes, create alien prostheses, or add special effects. We’ll show you what you need and how to achieve the effect you want.

COSPLAY PICS 101: POSING IN COSTUME – Panel; 2 hours.
Want to look better in your cosplay photos? Want to make quick hallway snapshots look as good as a staged photoshoot? It’s possible with a little posing practice! Come learn the secrets of creating flattering and dynamic poses for any character, as well as how to use setting and props to best effect.

FEATHERWEIGHT ARMOR
It’s possible to make great costume armor without investing in metalworking or risking toxic chemicals! We’ll cover alternative armoring for historical and fantasy costumes, using a variety of inexpensive, readily-available materials.
PANEL (2 hours): See sample armor pieces and learn about their construction process.
WORKSHOP (2 hours; $10): Make a piece of hall-safe armor to wear out!

COSPLAY ON STAGE: PRESENTATION AND PERFORMANCE FOR COSPLAYERS – Panel; 2 hours.
Join stage veterans and award-winning performers for tips on perfecting your masquerade presentation. Doing a walk-on? Learn how to pose like your character and make the best use of the stage area. Doing a performance? Learn how to script a memorable skit, block your moves, involve your audience, and more! All experience levels welcome.

INTRO TO THERMOPLASTICS
You’ve heard about amazing plastics like Worbla, Wonderflex and Sintra, but which material is right for your project, and where do you start? This workshop will cover the basic varieties of thermoplastics and their uses, along with sample projects and live demonstrations.
PANEL (1 hour): See sample pieces and watch a live demo of thermoforming.
WORKSHOP (2 hours, $10): Try out samples of several kinds of thermoplastics and make a simple project.

MOLDS, RESINS AND SILICONES, OH MY!
Learn the process of fabricating hard plastic and flexible synthetic accessories for your costume (or other hobby). We’ll discuss the various types of casting and moldmaking materials, explore their pros and cons, and walk through the moldmaking and casting process. Samples of various materials and finished products will be on hand. (Bring a notebook; this panel is info-heavy!)
PANEL (2 hours): See finished pieces and learn the step-by-step process.
WORKSHOP (3 hours; $24): Sculpt an original design, make a reusable silicone mold, and cast a finished piece in resin! Take your creation and the mold home with you to use again.

WINGS TO WEAR – Workshop; 2 hours; $20.
Make and decorate your own pair of hall-safe wings (your choice of bat or bird) to wear around the convention!

ACADEMIC & FAN PROGRAMMING

JAPANESE FOLKLORE: AN ANIME, MANGA & FILM PRIMER
Panel; 2 hours.
What’s the difference between bakemono and ayakashi? Who’s that Pokémon, and why is it in a 200-year-old woodblock print? Does the story of Sailor Moon actually predate the Norman conquest of England? (Spoiler: YES, it does!) Get the most from your animé and Asian cinema experience when you understand the cultural background! Learn about Japanese mythology in this folklore primer, illustrated with video clips from animé and Japanese film.

STORYTIME FROM JAPANESE HISTORY – Panel; 1 hour.
As the oldest monarchy in the world, Japan’s had plenty of time for some amazing moments in history. Hear a few of the most important, most famous, or most fun–from the Genpei War to the Meiji Revolution, from girl power to magical red cows, from archery contests to smallpox–with illustrations, photos, ties to your favorite anime/manga, and plenty of geekery.

NORSE MYTHOLOGY – Panel; 1 hour.
The Vikings are having a Moment in modern pop culture, what with Thor: Ragnarok, Neil Gaiman’s book, and more. But much of what we see in modern interpretations is far departed from the original mythos, and little of it is in context with actual Norse life and culture. Join the award-winning author of The Songweaver’s Vow for an overview of the historical Viking era, what we really know — and don’t know — of Norse mythology, and how these ancient stories are still being told today.

THE PHANTOM THIEF: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY Panel; 2 hours.
How did Edgar Allen Poe influence Sailor Moon? What do Norse gods, Joan of Arc, and Lupin III have in common? Who was the real-life Moriarty? Learn the origin of the kaitou, Japan’s archetypal thief, from his birth in Gilded Age literature to his high-tech 21st century incarnations. Follow this truly international antihero’s development through history with examples from animé, manga, film, and literature.

GANKUTSUOU: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO – Panel; 1 hour.
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas, is a famous and influential novel that has been reimagined as cinema, television, and now animé. But when it was published, it was shocking, sensational, and downright scandalous! Join us for a discussion and comparative look at the original work, various film and TV interpretations, and the animé, Gankutsuou. We even have rare footage that you won’t see anywhere else!

SUPER-HYPER-ULTRA-MEGA-ABRIDGED GUIDE TO ANIME OF THE 1990s – Panel; 2 hours.
If you discovered animé in a year beginning with 2, chances are you missed some of the most defining series of American fandom. But never fear — even if you don’t have time to watch Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Slayers, Rurouni Kenshin, AND all 200 episodes of Sailor Moon, we can still help you avoid making n00b mistakes. After this panel, you’ll be able to recognize cosplays, understand reference jokes, and sing along with “Zankoku na Tenshi no TE-ZE” like all the other fanboys and girls.

WRITING & PUBLISHING PROGRAMMING

Laura is a best-selling, award-winning author of both non-fiction and fiction, including fantasy (historical, epic, and urban), historical, and mystery. She loves talking about writing and geekdom! Alena is also an author (fiction and non-fiction) and artist, and enjoys talking about design and marketing.

YOUR VELOCIRAPTORS ARE BROKEN – Panel; 1 hour.
From fiction to screenwriting, creators often ignore basic science in the name of storytelling. But it’s true that “truth is stranger than fiction,” and often using the same old trope or assumption means missing out on something much cooler. Join Laura, international speaker on animal training and behavior and bestselling author, to discuss some of the most common errors and show how taking an accurate approach might yield not only a more believable but a more complex and better story.

WHY I HATE SELF-PUBLISHING: A SNARKY GUIDE BY A HAPPY SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR – Panel; 1 hour.
Today it’s simple to publish a book with the click of a mouse. It’s not quite as easy, though, to publish a book which will sell well and establish a good writing career. And bad advice about writing, editing, marketing, and relating to one’s fellow authors is everywhere. Let Laura warn you about some of the most common errors,  and advise how best to avoid them, with some laughs along the way.

BEST FOOT FORWARD! “EDITOR” IS NOT JUST A MOVIE CREDIT – Panel; 1 hour.
So you’re new to writing or publishing, and you think you can’t afford the time or expense of editing? You can’t afford notto edit. Let’s discuss the different types of editing, from structural to line, and why it’s imperative that your manuscript experience them all before it goes out as a submission or a self-published book. Bonus overview of ridiculous research errors.

COVER DESIGN 101: COMPELLING AND MARKETABLE GRAPHIC DESIGN FOR FICTION – Panel; 1 hour.
We all know a bad book cover when we see it: Unreadable titles, badly-Photoshopped cover images, hideous color choices. But even if your cover isn’t a graphic design nightmare, it may not be selling your book! Learn how to break down a cover and make sure it’s working for you. We’ll discuss concepts, art choice, typefaces, visibility, and how to avoid common marketing mistakes.

BOOKBUILDING: WRITING & PUBLISHING LIKE A PRO – Panel; 1 or 2 hours.
It’s never been easier to get into writing and publishing — but with great power comes great responsibility. Learn from an award-winning successful author the best practices for successful writing, editing, and publishing, from story craft to marketing. Avoid common mistakes and dangerous business deals, stay legal, and build your readership.

TAKE OFF THE EXPOSITION HAT: INTRODUCE YOUR WORLD & CHARACTERS WHILE AVOIDING THE DREADED INFODUMP – Panel; 1 hour.
All stories require background, from worldbuilding to character backstory. But explaining all this to the reader can be the kiss of death to pacing and compelling narrative. The trick is to get the reader everything they need, at the right time they need it, without weighting the story with anything they don’t need—and to do it unobtrusively. We’ll talk about ways to do this, tips and tricks, genres conventions, and then we’ll try some hands-on problems ourselves.

AUTHOR MARKETING & BRANDING: THE TECHNICAL & PRACTICAL
– Panel; 1 or 2 hours.
Discoverability, branding, and marketing are critical to the success of a traditionally-published or self-published author, but there is still a startling amount of unhelpful or just plain wrong information being shared. Laura VanArendonk Baugh will discuss technical aspects of branding and marketing, with walk-throughs for setting up and maintaining an author website (including caveats for common mistakes and dangerous pitfalls for the novice) and tutorials for some of the scariest bits of marketing (learn to love the camera!).

OTHER PROGRAMMING

GAMER JEWELRY: MAKE A D6 BRACELET & EARRINGS – Workshop; 1 hour; $8.
Show your geek pride!  Make a D6 bracelet, earrings, or combination to wear out. Variations and creativity encouraged!

RETICULATED COIFFURE: MAKE A FANCY COMB AND SNOOD – Workshop; 1 hour; $8.
Want to add a Renaissance touch to your costume or everyday garb? Make a fancy beaded comb and snood for your hair.

LEARN TO DANCE THRILLER! – Workshop; 2 hours; free.
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is an iconic dance, and always useful — and you can learn it. Yes, you! This tutorial is specifically for novice and less confident dancers (experts are welcome, too!). Your instructors are TAGteach-certified to help you achieve your best with the most fun possible

BALLROOM & SWING DANCE PRIMER – Workshop; 1 hour; free.
Terrified of the convention’s formal dance event? Not sure what to do at wedding receptions? Never fear: In this short, easy dance lesson, you’ll learn some simple dance steps. Impress your friends and your date with your fancy footwork!