Outside San Diego Comic-Con: The Orville Experience
by Veronica Nunez, August 7, 2019
We had planned on spending all of Saturday during SDCC inside the convention center seeing various panels, but there had been an announcement on Twitter from Orville producer Tom Constantino (@TomConstantino) on Friday about some “surprises or special guests” at The Orville Experience after 5pm on Saturday. We guessed that the some cast members would likely be making an appearance due to their panel and signing all ending before 5pm that day.
We had planned on seeing The Orville Experience anyway, but we changed our panel plans for Saturday afternoon/evening to make sure we got to the offsite in time. We left the convention center immediately after The Orville panel, grabbed sandwiches to eat in line, and arrived outside the offsite around 4pm. There was a very small line, and they let in groups of 10 or so people in at a time.
It was lovely to be in a well air-conditioned room, and the space was much larger than I was expecting. There were so many costumes on display as well as storyboards and concept art. There was also a video of the animation process for sequences. The detailing on the costumes are absolutely incredible as is the detailing on the model of The Orville ship. The ship model looked to be about 2 feet long and was beautifully displayed.
As it got closer to 5pm, you could see that no one was leaving the building and they had stopped letting people in. Photographers were let in and set up around the group of costumes set up below “The Orville Experience” signage. I placed myself directly behind the gun prop display, but lost my space when I stepped back to get one of the “The World of The Orville” books. The cast arrived to take some photos, and Seth MacFarlane did an interview or two.
It was very crowded at this time, and I was getting a bit warm in the crowd. I took a few more photos of some of the displays, but I still wasn’t able to get to see everything there. There was also a GIF/photo op by the exit, but I slightly regret not staying to do it.
The Orville Experience was set up by some of the production department with about 2 months’ time to work on it. Not having experience in displays showed in that the font size on information placards was too small to read from behind the ropes. Costumes were displayed along walls along with storyboards and concept art, and they had rope barriers set up to keep visitors from getting too close to the costumed mannequins, which I completely understand, but the small font on the information placards made them very difficult to read. Also, there were a lot of shadows created on some of the art and their placards from the costumes.
Less than a week before San Diego Comic-Con, I decided to make a Stranger Things inspired skirt. It had been on my mind since last October when I attended my “niece’s” Stranger Things themed birthday party. I ordered a vintage floral bedsheet off of Ebay which was brand new in its original packaging. Unfortunately, due to the packaging I didn’t see that the floral pattern was only along the top edge and not throughout the sheet. I quickly found 2 more bedsheets, 1 twin size and 1 full size, on Ebay and placed the orders crossing my fingers at least one would arrive in time.
Bedsheets can be great for making skirts and dresses from, especially in this case since I want a vintage style/color/pattern. I also didn’t have much time before we left for San Diego, and I would be hand-sewing the skirt because I don’t know how to use a sewing machine. The two sheets arrived a day apart, and though the full size would have been easier to work with cutting wise, the twin size had a better pattern and coloring. The twin sheet I used was by Room Concepts in the Michele pattern, and it was a “flannelette” 50/50 cotton-polyester blend. I had four days until we left for San Diego.
I washed both sheets in hot water to remove any sizing and smells they may have from their age, and dried them on high heat as well. I used a skirt I have to make a rough pattern (I have a pattern packed away somewhere from when I made my Star Wars skirt, but I couldn’t find it) on some butcher paper we have. I also traced a rough oval using my hand for sizing reference to add pockets to my skirt. I used this pattern to cut the fabric. After the fabric was cut, I tea-stained the cut pieces to get the colors a bit older looking and a bit darker. The sheet had a cream color background, but I wanted it to be a bit more brownish.
I washed the pieces again after tea-staining, and there was an unfortunate amount of fraying along most of the edges, but I cut larger than normal edges in case this happened. The tea-staining made the fabric more wrinkled than before so I had to iron the pieces prior to painting the alphabet onto the back and front pieces. I used the Soft fabric paint by Tulip in Ebony and a natural bristle ¾” paint brush I had on hand to paint the letters. I started with the back section of the skirt in case I screwed it up. This was done at midnight on the Saturday night before San Diego Comic-Con because we had been at a friend’s birthday party all afternoon/night. I got up early on Sunday morning to paint the front section of the skirt since the back side was now dry. We don’t have a lot of space for me to lay both sides to dry where my cat, Nick Furry, can’t get his hair all over it. I let the paint air dry on its own for about 2 hours, then I used a hair dryer to get the spots which were taking longer to dry due to thicker layers of paint.
While the front side paint was drying I temporarily altered a full-length white petticoat/crinoline I had on hand. I do have a shorter one, but it’s a dark-ish blue, and I felt that it was too dark to wear under the sheet fabric. Tea-staining does help with the transparency issue most sheets have, though the flannelette is thicker than most sheets. I used a lot of safety pins to pull up the outer layer of the petticoat to the waist, then I “hemmed” the underskirt/lining with safety pins from the bottom. Pinning from the bottom helped give some extra poof, too.
Since I had been thinking about making this skirt since October, I had purchased two small battery operated Christmas lights from Michaels during Christmas time. They’re the LED and the perfect classic shape, but I wished they had a blinking option. Sunday, Monday (after work), and Tuesday morning I sewed all of the pieces together, but I hadn’t given enough space to slide the 1” wide elastic for the waist (due to my painting the letters too high), so I had to use some thinner elastic which isn’t as strong. Like I mentioned before, I don’t know how to sew and an elastic waistband is all I can really do. The flannelette fabric is also stretchy, and I have no experience working with stretchy fabric
We were leaving for San Diego at 11am on Tuesday so it was crunch time. I tried on the petticoat and skirt to see if I needed to make further adjustments to the petticoat. It did need another 2 inches shortened on the interior lining, but the skirt was ready to have the lights pinned to it. I wanted to have one battery pack in each pocket, so I put the battery pack inside the pocket and safety-pinned the lights going from the battery to the end of the light strand. I pinned from the under the skirt putting the pin through the two cords which made up the light strand. I need to get a third strand or maybe one much longer strand of lights to make the skirt better.
I received a lot of compliments on my skirt when I wore it on the first day, Thursday, of Comic Con even though I only had the lights one when I was on the exhibition floor or when I was volunteering in the Hall H line later that evening. You couldn’t see the lights in the bright sunlight, but they still had a great effect. Some of the nice comments I didn’t even hear as people would say something to their friends as I passed by them on the Exhibition floor, but my boyfriend was walking behind me and he heard them. So the moral of the story is to not let your inexperience keep you from trying something.