Friday, August 19, 2016

Utena...Start! Utena's log: Gathering Materials

Two Posts in One Month!?

I must be going soft.

Today culminated towards the end-ish of my hunt for fabrics for my upcoming Utena cosplay, which I probably should start sewing as I speak but the allure of resting from my first day back from class and a hectic work schedule by catching up on other projects and grasping onto the little break time that I have before tomorrow is too strong. Truthfully though, I'll be starting up over the week, likely even tomorrow since I managed to get those epaulet pieces today.

So last few entries, I went over my first Utena cosplay, which I completed in January, and it's only fitting now to kickstart my progress on with my new Utena, which is based off of the classic manga version:

Like over 9000 years in the making.
My fabric haul for Utena is probably one of my favorites since the colors are so striking. As always, my go-to place for a number of projects has been Gilack Fabrics in downtown Los Angeles in the Fabric District. They are absolutely the nicest and most helpful people, and the quality of their fabrics are amazing. So I wanted to shout-out to them in case any LA-based readers are around, because they welcome cosplayers and are such a great gem to the district, among many amazing stores.

So I thought this would be a great time to work towards being a little more active online about chronicling my cosplay work, so here's our attempt! I really need to, considering how many photos I have. I'm rivaling my mother's ratio of my baby pictures to pictures of my fabric and mockups and trim tests.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Tenjou Utena - Adolescence of Utena

The dream cosplay. It's surreal to believe that I actually completed it this year, but at the same time, 2005 was the hallmark of when I started going to cons, but 2006 was when I first started cosplaying at cons. That means that technically, 2016 is the anniversary of officially cosplaying!

So, how to do you celebrate a ten year milestone? By cosplaying as your one true hero! I've written about my early convention experiences before, but I don't think I will ever tire of writing how my love for Utena propelled my way into the world of anime. It's funny to think that I got into anime through Utena because I related to the storyline and felt so strongly connected to its intelligence. Ironically, anime isn't always the most intelligent form of art out there, but it certainly left an impression on me that's more than just obvious in my life.

So naturally, when I first got into cosplay, I wanted to cosplay as Utena. I didn't have many skills in sewing, so I originally commissioned back in 2008 her school uniform to wear to ALA. It wasn't the best made, but I wore it as a jacket to school (I was one of those) and I wore it to ALA 2009 as a jacket since I was wearing Latias at the time.

Even after I learned to sew, I avoided the idea of cosplaying as Utena because I felt so intimidated by the idea of making my dream cosplay. To be honest however, it was one of the best experiences I ever had, and overall one of my favorite cosplays to make (and why I like regularly watching ice skating on television now).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Anime LA 2016 - Nami


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.

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 every year, 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.

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.

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!