Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Anime LA 2016 - Nami

Hello! It's been some time since I've made a proper post, but admittedly I've been writing them but losing my track of time before I get the chance to submit them. I've been working on trying to be active on social media, and I'm honestly stunned and in awe of the people who can manage to balance both out. I can barely reply to an email on my phone. Since I'm knee-deep in for AX, I haven't had much of a time to discuss any of my ALA or Fanime cosplay progress, so I thought it would be a great way to retrospect on some new sewing techniques and share in general what I've been working on. Let's start with the easiest. NAMI - ONE PIECE: NEW WORLD I freely admit that I have a love-hate relationship with One Piece. It was one of my middle school go-to anime when I was just getting into the scene and my guy friends had their subscriptions to Shounen Sunday. My best friend at the time also was a die-hard Sanji fan. Come to think of it, several of my friends throughout middle school and high school dvoted their lives to him. I wonder if any of them are Shokugeki no Souma fans now. But my "hate" portion comes with the fact that I'm not a huge fan of several of the costume choices in the series. I love so many characters and it's admirable to see how long the series has gone successfully, but some of those outfits are tough to stomach. As a true artist though, I'm sure Oda is just following his gut on what he likes, so I still give him mad respect for that. So when ALA comes around, my friends and I get very nostalgic to do something old school, as if that 85% of our cosplays doesn't consist of titles prior to 2005. One Piece is one of my brother and best friend's favorite series, and generally, it is a fun cosplay group idea that anyone can jump on without much issue. At ALA 2013, I made Nico Robin and Shanks for me and my brother for our group masquerade skit. This year, we had a new cosplay friend joining us and gave him the choice to pick a cosplay he wanted to do and we could all likely join in without sacrificing much time away from our masquerade cosplays. Naturally, he chose One Piece, and he commissioned me to make him a New World Luffy cosplay, which my brother also asked for as well. Despite detesting several designs, I had one version of Nami I actually liked, and could possibly double up as a rodeo outfit for those country music festivals we have in my city going on during the summer. So a quick blurb about Luffy 1 and Luffy 2: One Luffy was made of kona cotton, while the second one was made of linen. They chose different colors since my brother had preselected his fabric from my stash, and wanted a more rustic-looking Luffy. My other friend went closer with the color featured on the splash art, so it is brighter. They also chose linen for their sashes, my brother's was a mustard color while other friend's was a dandelion yellow. For the shorts, both of them modified their own denim pants and turned them into cut-off shorts. I only had enough time to sew fur onto one of them, while my brother will be rewearing his for another event so it gives me the chance to add more details. For the pattern, I modified a wrap cardigan pattern for women's since the drape on Luffy's jacket is flowy and definitely cut on a bias. I went with my gut on the drape of it, and it managed to work our perfectly for their silhouettes. I then made some flounces and hemmed them before attaching them onto the sleeves, which I thankfully recalled doing in my draping class. They are both unlined but finished on the inside. Overall, both cosplays took roughly about an hour to two hours, if you add me hemming facings, adding buttons, little things, etc. Both of them ordered their hats online, styled their own wigs, and I made the scar on my friend's chest using foundation, primer water, eyebrow pencils, brown eyeshadows, and bronzers. Back to Nami! I started out with the dress, which I had a pattern for already. It was an empire, baby-doll styled dress which blooms into a skirt past the bustline. I chose a silky taffeta, which frayed like mad but had an absolutely great hand and luster. I made the top, which sections off as princess seams to give it more of a shape, and I modified the front panel to add a sweetheart neckline, although I kept the dip to a minimum. Then I made the straps out of the same material, and ironed as much I could without burning the synthetic and sandwiched them in with the fabric and lining. Then I basted the bodice and started on the skirt, which was a series of circle skirts I also attached and added horsehair braid to give it that wavy shape. I admit that this honestly is what makes the costume, since her dress distinctively has body to it. I found a jacket pattern I had that contained princess seams and a wide collar, so I could modify that for her design. For the fabric, I selected a white bottom weight I had purchased at the fabric district, since I wanted something that was sturdy and opaque enough. I initially wanted more of a leathery texture, but it was going to be pretty expensive. I worked on the jacket part for a few nights after work while watching Reply 1997, which I know is digressing, but is one of my favorite dramas ever now. I stopped in between at times to watch so that I wouldn't miss a second, so admittedly the costume might have taken less time had I been watching reruns of Matlock or something. Either way, while I was enjoying the Reply goodness, I first made my jacket base and lined it using a lighter-weight fabric I had stashed away. The jacket is held up by the belt instead of buttons or a zipper, so I made sure everything was crisp and even. Then I made the collar, which the first round didn't pan out the way I had wanted it to and started over again (roughly around episode 9). I was pretty frustrated with it since I realized that I had just enough time to try again with the fabric I had. The second time, it worked! I was able to add the gold bias tape along the collar, as well as on the jacket itself. My favorite part was adding the buttons and the gold trim decorations along the sides of the jacket. I spent quite a bit of time folding them properly and handsewing the buttons onto them, but it did give me a lot of time to watch through episode 5 through 8. For the collar, I had struggled on how I wanted to make her little swirly designs. Admittedly due to lack of time and a hesitation to sit down and play the embroidery game, I thought of other alternatives, which included looking for a premade patch design of some kind to iron on. When I had gone to the district, I had found exactly what I had been envisioning, but it was about three shades brighter than I would have wanted since the golden trim is very light and metallic. I had also gone to another store, where I had fallen in love with these beautiful premade, beaded designs which people add onto necklines. Despite the price, I purchased it and hoped that I would be able to use them for Nami. At some point while making the jacket, I was growing skeptical that they would be even useful for her design, but once I had finished the collar, I tested it out and ended up really liking the result. Her jacket looks like half-PTA mom, half-Billy Ray Cyrus fan, and I secretly love it. Despite finishing my jacket before the convention, I was still sort of on the fence about some parts of the silhouette, namely due to the lack of sleeves. I'm personally not a fan of sleeveless cosplays, so Lyric was kind enough to give me some of his extra chiffon he was using for his Anthy cosplay to add a train of ruffles, which I handsewed along the edge of the collar. I was pretty surprised and pleased with the result, since it kept the cowgirl theme but gave me some more coverage along the arms. What was even more magical was the fact that I had eyeballed the length I needed for the ruffles and I somehow managed to have a perfect length for the collar. The hat was a pretty hilarious experience. I purchased a premade pirate hat that had the exact same silhouette, but it was black. Using a stretchy satin, I estimated some rough shapes for the brim and for the top, and with the help of my mother, pinned them along to sew them into a proper shape and create a sock of the hat. To my surprise, it actually worked. I handsewed some trim along the center and for the tail, purchased a boa that had once been a bright orange but it had faded due to sun damage while being on display otuside. It was however, the perfect shade, so I took it home and attached it to the back of my hat. Overall, considering my lack of millinery skills, I was pretty happy to make a convincing hat in about an hour's time. I might get around to making her bracelets, but beyond that, I borrowed Shii's sister's cowgirl boots since I wasn't keen on the white heels, although maybe there will come a point where I would be willing to admit them into my life. I also borrowed my sister's little rubberband bracelets instead, and I bought a belt at the store a few days before that matched it perfect, and I already had a long, orange wig, so I was pretty much prepared to wear my cosplay for Day 1. Overall, this costume was a fun experience because while I'm not a huge fan of One Piece cosplays, I had an adventure making mine. It sort of made up for the experience when I made Nico, which I felt was a little bland and underwhelming, and I had primarily picked it because it had been one of the few designs the girls wore with sleeves. I also made this so that I could bring it around for other pirate or summer cosplay events without the hassle of making something new. And I'm surprised at how comfortable everything turned out to be. It paid off to make sure to get the fit right on the dress and jacket as well. I wore my cosplay with Shii as Chopper, and my brother and our friend as twin Luffys. It was so much fun to be Nami, and I feel satisfied that I fulfilled my One Piece quota to wear to ALA next year for their pirate themed Sunday.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Anime Conventions 2006-2016 (and some progress updates)

My derpy posts are so long, and I've just discovered the cut function.

This past month has been pretty hectic, but I'm sort of glad to say that spring break is bringing a bit of a clearing in a number of things going on with school, work, personal life, creative things. Everything had really rolled into too much of one, massive thing. Now it's slowing down, so I'm optimistic that it will give me time to be able to tend to each priority to the best of my abilities. Always staying positive!

I've started working on Fanime plans, although to be honest, it's been quite a journey since ALA. I took a bit of a sewing break for the month of February and while I had plans already in motion for what I want to have done by Fanime, I hadn't actually done much more than some rehearsals, some patternmaking/drafting, and general fabric hunting. I hadn't really done as much as I would have hoped, but I kind of needed the break to mentally focus on school and a few work changes here and there that needed my attention. Otherwise, I wouldn't say that ALA burnt me out, but it came at a time where, because the dates were pushed to the end of the month than the first weekend of January, my brain hadn't really registered that we had more time to get things done for ALA but less time to get things done for Fanime.

I'm sort of bummed out that I was unfortunately not able to attend Hanadoki Con this year. I had plans to, but personally I felt that it would be pushing too much energy out of me than I need to right now. It's been sort of nice to take a few nights to work on things here and there and not have this pounding stress coming in from all sides. I would like to definitely attend next year; San Diego was wonderful at this time of the year and I liked how laidback it was. I also call it the "Con Checkpoint", since after Hanadoki, I know it's time to buckle down for Fanime and AX and other conventions.

The good news is that yesterday I was able to get started on sewing a small but crucial part of my masquerade costume. I started with the underdress, which I made out of a dotted swiss cotton and some eyelet trim. I wanted to make it light, airy, and have enough of a twirl to it. I managed to finish it with a part of the evening's work, and tomorrow will be starting on some mock ups for one of my dress parts. I ordered a handy pattern for the second part, and then am anticipating on getting some nice cottons for the second part of my dress. I have this beautiful yellow peachskin that I am over the moon about for the first part. *_*

So before I get to the hilarious cut, because I'm so terrible at staying on point without a derpy ramble, I do admit that most people probably go through a phase where they stop and realize that this is really their hobby, and likely a part of life in small or big ways. I started cosplaying around 2002 when I was about eleven/twelve years old, because it's hard for me to sometimes count that as cosplaying since it's often attributed now to cosplaying at conventions rather than your hometown events or really, just at home.

I didn't go to my first convention in 2005, when I was thirteen years old and it was sort of something I never anticipated that would escalate to where I am in so many amazing ways. While I wasn't part of the earlier anime convention crowd, I had been part of a phase where it was evolving, and really, it's only been a matter of short amoutn of time. It's kind of miraculous. So I supposed that while I'm no expert, I wanted to really share my point of view here in my little corner of the Internet what I have seen change, mutate, and evolve over time in the world of cosplay.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Joys of a Part-Time Job

I often discuss here about my hobbies and what I enjoy pursuing in my free time, but none of that could exist without having some form of income. Given that I am currently studying full-time and working in projects within the gaming industry, I am part of the current wave of twenty-somethings looking out for a welcomed balance of income to fuel my life's daily interests and to keep my education and interests going.

Finding a job at times isn't the most pleasant experience, but you learn a lot about yourself in the process.

I currently work at a vitamin store, and it's both a rewarding and balanced experience for me. I'm grateful that I have the opportunity to work at a place that balances my schedule so that I can participate in my competitions, study both in and off campus, and be able to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at my workplace. I come home with some pretty intriguing health stories!

Yet in the past, I struggled finding this type of job. The job market can be a competitive place, and it isn't easier when you're having to drive yourself from one town to the next to get the your class on time. Sometimes even landing the first job is difficult, because most places won't even look at your resume if it doesn't have some prior experience. Several friends of mine have experienced trouble when they have admitted in potential interviews that they are students or are tied to another job, even when they're trying to acquire a new one to make ends meet.

I personally have gone to some job interviews that look down upon college students, or may not be flexible with adults who have extracirricular interests. I've also gone to job interviews that have turned out to be complete scams, and it's terrifying to think that their main targets are college students looking for a viable way to make an income without compromising their education.

Most of the time, I've learned that the best approach to landing and keeping jobs is to show an invested interest in their company, and quite simply, deliver. Make them know you are worth putting out on the floor, or in the office. While my interests will always be important to me, I have found success in being able to compromise with my job. If I want a day off to pursue a specific interest, I offer a negociation. If you strive hard and set goals in your workplace, there's a chance that your supervisors may see your investment to their interests, and may start showing for yours.

In these experiences, you get a chance to learn about your work ethic and how to become part of a team. Most college students will likely transition into jobs where team work is vital, as well as learning how to be considerate and work hard for the benefit of others and yourself. Both interviews and actual jobs have taught me also how to be a better listener, and to work in the company of my peers, even in situations where having someone your age is also an authority figure.

There's never a guarantee that everyone will enjoy their part-time job, but it's important to know that it's a learning experience and a step in a grander staircase. Some of us may become the employers of tomorrow, and we may be the ones sitting on the other side, recalling the experiences we went through to land those jobs.

Best of luck on the job quest!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

New Year, New Projects!

I'm both humored and gutted with nostalgia when I think how about ten years ago, I was watching Onegai Twins and buying kotoko, Mizuki Nana, and angela singles, daydreaming about Utena and calling myself a prince, wearing a Nadia shirt until it mysteriously vanished, probably back into the seas, and had just gone to ALA cosplaying Sohma Kagura with my friends.

Now fast-foward to now, I got through Owari no Seraph: Battle in Nagoya and started up the winter anime season, buying Utapri, Lovelive, angela, and Faylan CDs, giggling about Fushigi Yuugi musicals, wearing a Sailormoon print shirt, and just came from ALA having cosplayed Utena, who I still daydream a lot about.

2006 is kind of a cool year to look back in some ways, and I think personally it was around that frame of time when I was having fun getting to watch more anime and be in on new titles that I could find online and not have to wait just for cons or select video stores and places to have them. It used to take a while for certain titles to come out and be dubbed, and it was around this time when it was picking up. Now people can watch subs so quickly, and even buy dubbed versions just as fast!

Cosplay-wise too, it's changed to much. The access to better materials, wigs, and cosmetics has made it significantly different in some ways, but I find it fun! I don't think without cosplay I would be able to have stopped and enjoyed learning about makeup. It's also mindboggling to realize that my craftsmanship has significantly improved too! I lacked so much knowledge about sewing machines back then.

So as I mentioned, ALA came by and it's been a whirlwind of time! I keep saying that I want to keep on updating, and I'm anticipating that this year will be hopefully more consistent. I've been working on trying to be on that social media game, but alas, I'm so derpy at it. I promise I'll work hard!

So we've got a new year and a lot of new projects, and I'm honestly looking forward to the whole experience of elevating my craftsmanship and working on some absolutely wonderful skit ideas for the upcoming conventions. It's so mindboggling that Fanime is in about three months! How?! How?!

~~~~ NEW PROJECTS ~~~~

3 Months!?!!!!!!?!?!??!?!!?!?!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I have plans to likely go for a day to Hanadoki Con, which is in San Diego. I really liked it last year, and for being a small convention, the whole atmosphere was super nice! I likely will bring Utena because there's a rose garden.

 Fanime Projects are underway!

I currently have my masquerade cosplay in progress, and I'll be able to post pictures quite soon! I'm pretty excited about it!! I have also a group cosplay with some really lovely girlies who are doing a Lovelive constellation group cosplay!

And then likely, I'll be working on quite for a while on my next project:

Ahhhh!!! Another dream cosplay!! I've wanted to be Asuna for years and I got her wig waiting for the moment, and now I feel like I am ready to tackle this project! I really love this design so much, and we are planning on some Sword Art Online for Fanime, so my jimmies are ready! I've started working on some pattern drafting for this project!

More in the cut because I'm going to proceed to talk about ALA and a bunch of new cosplay fuzzy-feeling things. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October is here, and Guy Pearce is single again.

Time to take a trip to Australia!

I am a victim of the Cosplayer's Halloween Curse!

There's no hiding that this month is probably (and hopefully) the stretch of the Great Time of Derp, which has spanned for over a a year of a lot of derp. Despite my rougher looking schedule, I was encouraged by my recent derp of not being able to hit the Highland Games because the weather was so awful to treat myself to looking forward to dressing up for Halloween. Which basically means, what do I want to sew? 

My friends and I don't often have huge plans for Halloween, but we love the novelty of dressing up, yet again, as if we don't nearly three times a month. But it's uniquely fun in its own way, because you get to dress up with friends who don't normally do other than on Halloween.

Given my lack of last year's posting, I didn't get to mention much that I went back and fixed my old Usagi seifuku to attend a friend's party. I made the costume for Comikaze 2012, and wore it once after unexplicably losing my wig, although it's really hard to figure out how I lost it in the first place. Either way, the sleeves hadn't been my best, so this time around I went back and redid them so that they were eons more comfortable. I threw in the towel early on Halloween mostly because PMX was a week later, and I had to finish Shiro and Tsukumo, which had taken up most of my spare up until then. It's also partly why this year, I actually want to make something fun. It doesn't have to be overly complicated or over-the-top, but really just fun, and any other adjective that sums up "fun".

I've fallen however into the cosplayer's dreaded curse: I don't know what I want to be for Halloween.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Post-PMX and the start of Australian Movie Month!

Australian movies, here I come!

Or rather, many movies in general.

Things have been winding down since coming back from PMX! It's crazy to see that I'm finally working on my way to update and get things rolling. I think that in many ways, it was an eye-opening experience for me.

I don't really need to begin with the same old story that work, school, and life had been so overwhelmingly busy that although I have been productive with cosplaying, I really haven't sat down to reflect upon how much I work at things. The benefit to that is really living without the necessity to blog, to simply live and keep on going forward, but another beauty of life is also looking back at posts and absorbing those good spirits and remembering all of the great things you can accomplish, even against all odds.

PMX for me this year was probably one of the hardest conventions to get enough time to get things done for how I wanted them to be. For starters, I had great plans with my friends, but just as they have their own concerns, the closer you get to the con, the more realistic you see your chances of finishing your projects with them. Unfortunately one by one they had to bow down for this time. One of the biggest conflicts had been the schedule change. PMX is my autumn convention, so I usually know to get settled into school, and then when things are lukewarm, just before the holidays, I can enjoy it. Last year, I was super happy to attend that convention as an opportunity after recovering from my really horrible sciatica. This year, it was like recovering from severe overworking.

Without needing to say more on the matter, my job situation had prevented me in more ways than one from not just having time to sew, but actually have opportunities for sleep, proper rest, and other essentials. So by the beginning of August, I had begun losing hope that I wasn't going to get any time to finish anything, and I made a last minute decision to remain at the job position I am currently at.

But I did manage to get PMX off for that weekend, so I focused on finding time in between everything to start getting my projects done. My two plans had initially been Luna from Sailormoon, and Yasuho from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, with Yasuho being my masquerade cosplay.

Although I'm all for masquerade, this time around I was very nervous about joining a collaboration skit, and lacking the proper time to get anything done.

Yasuho's little progress collage.

Within a few days before, I started working on Yasuho. I had gathered materials for both early on, but to sit and sew had been a whole different ball game. Mostly everything on the top had been nearly completed by the first night however, and I managed to make it easier to apply without compromising the trims and other additionals.

The skirt as well had been a simple circle skirt, although I prepped it to hold up about thirty roses along its hem and skirt fabric, which I am super happy with. The flowers were then attached and left to dry for most of the evening in an open environment. I had to make sure they didn't fall to the force of gravity.

A busted Utena-inspired prayer circle.

I think the true highlight of this costume however had been my artsy collaboration with my sister, who helped decorate a pair of shoes for me to glitter around the convention.

I absolutely adore these things.
So about three and a half days before the convention, I thought about how I wanted to finish Luna, or at least something that brought my joy to wear. I had skimped out on cosplay events to go to this convention, in a summer of very limited days off if any, and I wanted something to show for it.

Deep down, I felt a little sad that my friends had to drop from our Sailormoon idea. Even though I'm accustomed to finishing costumes alone most of the time, I felt like maybe I had pressed my hopes solely too much on it, and I found it hard to envision me wearing my costume and not seeing my friends in theirs. The joy was sharing our trio together.

So a few posts ago, I had mentioned that I had begun rereading Fushigi Yuugi. Although I thought I would cry, I didn't, but I felt rather satisfied with myself in an odd, tranquil sort of way. I thought that of all manga, I would be overcome with nostalgia and an existential pondering of why I felt this way, but I felt actually like it soothed a part of me that had been very hurt from all of these recent experiences.

Although the manga's a far cry from what Watase's writing or any modern "classy" fiction is, the story has always been meaningful to me. I certainly interpret it in a different way now in some areas, but very similarly to my core as my twelve-year-old self did the first time she picked up the manga. And in all these years, Miaka has had a special place in my heart.

Thanks to a kind and supportive friend, I sat with my thoughts and played around with the idea of switching my cosplay to something that right now could feed into those good feelings of hope, courage, and happiness. My instant thought was Miaka, because while her Suzaku no miko outfit from the anime isn't a huge, detailed project, it's beautiful in its own way. I instantly felt this emotion to do it, and I saw myself feeling so happy in my costume, no matter what.

In about twenty minutes, I found my supplies in my fabric stash, and began working on the red robe. I felt as if someone had taken me by my shoulders and let me soar through the night with my sewing. By morning, I had worked on both cosplays, and had made a note of what materials I'd need.

My lineup (although I didn't get a chance to wear Momoko for this event!)
 I went with a darker red shantung for Miaka's robe, since I had recently seen some of the images from the Fushigi Yuugi musical. I'm digging more than anything Yutaka Kyan, but that's a different story.

Although it was kind of a risky move, I went straight into the Joann trims thinking that I would find exactly what I needed for Miaka's neckband, since I gravitate to using trims at any fun possible moment. I went ahead and found this really neat trim, which I placed an underlayer of gold satin. Then on the side added another trim, and not seen here, midnight blue ribbon to give it that contrast.

I am the queen of retarded mirror shots.
So I finished pretty much adding the neckline and then all of my ribbon. I managed to have just enough to get all of that properly sewn in, and the result was really awesome!

Where I usually hang my costumes because clearly my background sets are on point.
 Already I was beginning to get excited about wearing Miaka, but my next process would be making the under robe.

So I followed the same robe pattern I had used for her robe, but it took me a little more to figure out how I wanted it to look like and give it that billowy effect but achieving two major requirements:

  1. It needed to have some drama on the bottom.
  2. It needed to have some opaque because I'm too embarrassed to go full sheer.
So I redrafted my pattern and split it on the waist into a top and half bottom of the robe pattern. I then cut out three layers of the bottom of each skirt panel: one of chiffon, one of icy organza, and one of a cream-colored peachskin I had leftover from a previous cosplay. I sewed the three layers together, then attached the front and back of each panel. By the time I got everything done, the top was made of the same peachskin so that it wasn't sheer, but the bottoms were made of individual layers that covered from the lower waist, but had drama on the bottom. I then serged all of the pieces, and the hems.

As you can see, it gives out the effect of having these billowy skirts, but I'm comfy on the inside, covered, and I still achieve the same outcome I want to make it accurate.

 With more ghetto goodness, I then tested out the under-robe without the sleeves yet with the robe, and was pretty happy with how the bottom looked. It has a bit of a train, which I like, but at the convention, it wasn't too much of a hassle to bring up whenever I walked around the convention floor.

So mind that this had been in about....three hours away or so from Day 1. I was pretty much posessed to finish this cosplay to wear for Sunday (Day 2) before changing into my masquerade cosplay for that evening. I then quickly drafted my sleeves, which I had some prior experience with on Kougyoku, yet I overlayed a very glittery organza into my sleeves so that they have some sparkle and texture, but none of the glittery goodness smeared all over my cosplays. Then I made the ruffled collar by folding over long strips, basting them, and then pulling at their ends to make some gentle ruffles, and then were serged and topstitched over to hold.

 This is probably one of my favorite cosplays ever. Even just from collecting my progress shots, I was astounded at how much work I had gotten done, and much more evenly paced, than other projects.

I wrapped up most of the fabrication by completing my bow and sashes for the evening, and then got ten minutes for some shut-eye before prepping in Kaoru.

As usual, being a complete goober.

I probably had less than half an hour of sleep in on me for the past days, but I was over the moon about my cosplays and going to the con that I really just went for it. Although I had other cosplay plans beforehand, I tossed most of them out for this con to really just get what I could done in a short time, and I feel like I really made the most of my time.


 This is me being a complete goober and at a loss for words for meeting Hikami Kyoko for the first time ever, after telling her what a huge Wedding Peach fan I am. I was in near tears. She was one of my huge reasons for going to the convention. She was so sweet!

So after my hurricane of vindication and shoujo magic tears, I got home after a very fun day at the convention. Although it was a small convention, it's definitely on the relaxing side, which is much welcomed! There's not a lot of conventions who have that sort of aura just because they are located in big cities or people put so much tension on them that you forget the fun of it. After all this time, it was so great to just wind down and get to be in costume, eat yummy food, and blissfully dream about those magical grills.

So my little interlude goes to Yasuho ~ so to go fast-forward for a moment, I have yet to have a picture of me as her! I took some, but the experience was way too fast for me to stop and see what I have in my photo stash. Needless to say, masquerade was super fun, and it was great kicking it together!

So when I got home, I got back to work to finishing up Yasuho, who needed application on the flowers mostly. Then for Miaka, I had most of the fabrication done but needed my accessories, so I took a quick nap and then got to work on my crown.

I had this assortment of earrings, hairclips, pins, buttons, and a load of other gunk I collected just for this project, so one by one, I began figuring out how to make an ornate version of her crown. I also fished out my brown bun wig, which is actually a wig for my Katase Shima cosplay, but it has a new purpose now.

The crown is actually comrpised of two long, conjointed and double-backed strips of craft foam and were covered with gold bias tape I had left over from Caster, which gave it a nice, metallic effect. Then I took a hairpin (the glittery white piece) and attached the center gem over it. The hairpin has large teeth so it can stay put in my wig, and I secured it by attaching another back one just in case. I then added rows of the pink gems, and then the two side pieces are made of earrings with gems attached on them. Not featured is the front cornice, which was made of a hairpin modge-podged and then repainted in gold to complete the look.

I am shocked that it actually looks like a crown. It's very lightweight, and it's well secured on both ends.

The battle station in full swing.
Here's a little breakdown of some of the clips and pieces used. The flowers have clips and I replaced them with lighter colored ribbon, since that pink was as bright as the sun baby from the Teletubbies, and I didn't wear the matching earrings this time around because I had to change into Yasuho.

So once again, lacking any time to sleep, I got all ready in my cosplay, and got a quick but victorious snapshot of my full Miaka cosplay!

Suzaku no Miko reporting for duty!
 I have yet to have pictures of the full cosplay, but I'm beyond words happy with how much fun I had being in this cosplay. Words can't express the experience of making this and seeing it well-made, durable, and accurate to what I wanted it to look like in my dreams. Not to mention, being that gluttonous but lovable little shoujo for the day.

In many ways, she made my convention, because while masquerade happened (which I shall report as well too!), my magic was having the chance to sew something I truly loved and brought me back to why I cosplay.

Coming back from the convention, I reflected a lot that everything had happened so fast. Most cons tend to come like that, because it's so easy to be wrapped in all of the important and realize how little time you have left to sew. But it's really true when they say that you can make your lemons into lemonade, when you truly believe in it.

Because I would really like to get into plans of another convention before Anime Los Angeles, where I have a skit in the brew with the friends, I have three new plans to work for the next couple of months as I get my rhythm going. I definitely want to finish Luna, and then I am making Kururu hopefully for Akiharabara Expo, as well as my Rose Witch project! I am super excited for her, since she will blend a lot of work I have done over the past few months! 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Journey to Senbonzakura no Kenshin

Today is a happy day!

And brings a week of creativity (and a lot of work!)

I got a job offer with better hours for school! Recently that had been taking a toll on me. My summertime was mostly working, which is great, but the school year brings a lot of demands. I got a job opportunity to have work while going to school, and it's closer to my interests in gaming. I'm definitely excited!

Hopefully this will bring a realm of stability I have lacked a little over the year. Like I mentioned before, I am blessed to be able to fit a lot of my interests in with my priorities, and it's a constant evolution. It is difficult due to my school hours to factor in a really heavy workload, so I hope that it will allow me to be able to care for my health too! I celebrated a year of progress on my back, and I want to keep on going!

I'm currently in progress to start my PMX cosplays just before I transition out of my old workplace. Most of my sewing will start this week, and I'm taking advantage of tomorrow's pattern sale to see if I need anything else for the while.

I've spent this week also watching Akatsuki no Yona finally, and then rereading Fushigi Yuugi! I'm so torn in wanting to do another cosplay, I may make Miaka, but I keep on thinking, "Control yourself, Kagura, you have so many designs and plans already!" Like it stops me from making things. I really love being able to catch up on some stuff over the year as the new fall anime season starts. I'm super excited for K: Return of Kings!!

I also have to catch up on my anison collection! I haven't gotten new singles in a while, and I need to get some new music! I last bought Exist by Angela...does she have a new single already?! Also Animelo! Next year, I'll be ready for those tickets!

For starters, a recent photo of me since I don't often put one because I'm naturally a goober.
So in midst of me catching up, I need to find out who to credit for these, but I'm super happy with some of the shots taken from Fanime of us on stage! I wanted to chronicle a little bit about my journey to making Kaoru and our skit, Senbonzakura no Kenshin.

Shii and I often wonder how my brother can see through his bandana.

I'll edit this to credit the photographer, because these are delicious! I mentioned that I rewore Kaoru recently, and I may have some time for Nisei Week this upcoming weekend. Maybe I'll be able to stop by and rewear it (or have a moment of durr and make a yukata for the event lol).

The skit was really fun to do! It took a span of six months of planning to get everything going. A few years back (so some entries ago too) we had conceived the idea of a Kenshin skit for Fanime 2013. We ended up switching to xxxholic instead when plans changed, so we left Kenshin aside as an undetermined project. After Anime Los Angeles, we were really surprised and pleased with the outcome of our Angel Virus skit that we ended up brainstorming som new ideas for Fanime.

We toyed with a few other ideas until I suggested for us to revisit Kenshin. It had been on everybody's minds. One of the issues with the skit I had personally had been how intimidated I was on making kimonos. I lacked a proper pattern and I didn't really understand what happened when I was working on Yuuko, although I kind of piced some ideas up by the last half of it. But I felt compelled to challenge myself, as did everyone in the group to make a skit fitting to the spirit of Kenshin.  

I love this photo of Lyric and Shii's epic fight, which I still don't know how my brother can see.
We started planning out the basics of the skit in late January, and I designed the skeleton of the skit's choreography since we wanted to make it more of an interpretive dance with a story. We figured out our roles early, although Lyric had initially chosen Aoshi for the final fight.

During the February-March season, we began working on setting up rehearsals. We rehearsed around one to three times a week, sometimes as a duo with Shii or Lyric, while other times as a trio with my brother and Shii, or Shii and Lyric. We made the most of the hours before and after work, and even sometimes stayed up past late-night park hours, with really confused park rangers.

Around that time, we also began preparing for our costumes. I had to both make my costume for Kaoru and for my brother, who chose Sanosuke.

To begin: I have evaded making this cosplay for years, mostly because I admittedly am intimidated by kimono and lacking the necessary knowledge of making one that doesn't look like it came straight out of a cheesy 90's Halloween catalogue. But I love kimonos, and after this experience, I surely will work on more. 

My biggest challenge for Kaoru was making the flowers and the concept for the kimono. I purchased a Folkwear pattern for the kimono to modify and add a lining to, and I worked on the flowers in various test stages to get the look that I wanted.

Progess while watching Frida.

I started out with this idea to overlay a sparkly fabric to make my flowers. My first attempt at creating the appliques out of them were a little challenging for me, mostly because the organza tended to move around. I eventually dropped that idea to go in favor of more traditional flowers.

Flowers, flowers, flowers!

My machine is a little on the older side, and it doesn't have as many cool gadgets as other snazzy new machines, so my satin stitching function is actually a small crank you have to hold down as you work through each of them. I basted them onto their placements before I could get to satin stitching them down.

It was kind of nerve wracking throughout the experience, mostly because my hands suffer from carpal tunnel. Yet they became these precious things:

Overall, there were about twenty six flowers made and were then trimmed and cleaned out to prepare to place on the fabric. They contain stabilizer in the back, and and were then laid over the individual pattern pieces first before sewing everything together.

I then went off to work on my first under kimono piece (which I should apply the proper terminology). I had initially chosen some different fabrics beforehand, but I went with this taffeta I found in the proper color. It was light and airy, and it's very easy to wear. The shinier side became it's own lining in a way.

I then completed the rest of my kimono, as shown here sans the neckband. This was roughly the night before we had to head out to Fanime, so all of the flowers had been satin stitched into the pieces, the pieces were sewn, and the kimono had been lined with another fabric I previously purchased but never used. The kimono is actually made of a vivid blue doll satin, courtesy of our favorite seller at the fabric district. Although I had intended to make my kimono out of silk, it ended up going closer to my vision.

The kimono pattern I used was from Folkwear, and it's a handy pattern to make a simple kimono out of. I had previously admittedly made a really bad kimono for Yuuko two years before (for the same con, ahem), and it had been a disaster to figure out the mobius strip that is the lining. However, it came a little more naturally this time around.

By the time this was all done, I had a few hours before packing up to work on Sanosuke for my brother.

I took a karate pattern and whipped it up. It's made of a heavy bottomweight cotton to give it that sturdy feel to it. Then I satin stitched the kanji on the back:

My brother got a lot of awkward looks from the local Asian restaurant when he stopped by for directions wearing this.

When we got to San Jose, I went ahead and finished the pants for Sanosuke, which I had cut out here, and then painting the branches on Kaoru, and handstitching the neckline. For the most part, the costumes endured much of our performance, which is a huge plus!

Overall, this skit means a lot to our group and to myself. I have yet to write more on how our Angel Sanctuary skit went, as well as subsequent projects, but I am so glad that we can look at this and really experience the joy that it was to perform it.

And here are some more recent photos of where I've worn Kaoru!

Credits to American Cosplay Paradise!
I recently wore Kaoru again to PMX 2015! I enjoy this cosplay so much, and I look forward to wearing it again soon!