Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fabric Haul!

The glorious fabric haul begins!

Taking a break from my more recent remorseful, "My Hand Hurts Saga", which hasn't improved but I hope to get at least a day of rest this Thanksgiving before finishing towards most of what seems to be the home stretch for my classes.

Ideally once classes are done, I'd love to get started on my ALA cosplay going. I actually have two to make, and then a holiday one after buying some lovely fabric for a holiday dress. I had planned to make a Christmas Nia outfit, although I'm unsure if I can get the wig in time. I might possibly be able to do a holiday Mirai or Stocking?

So to show my homework productiveness, here's a preview of what's to come of the future of the real website I'm working on:

I've started to consider to keep this blog, but to eventually transfer it over as well to the main portion of the site. I'm quite happy with how it's all looking, and I've just completed my comps for this project and working towards adding some tweaks here and there. I'm starting on the proper coding this week early on so I can have plenty of time to get it to look the way I want it.

After the semester is over, I'm ideally hoping to transfer new projects into there, but to also keep a more organized way to get ahold of me in a more professional manner, and also see some of my work.

So derpy picture of me, but over the weekend, I managed to start getting some plans on how to make Kougyoku from Magi for my ALA cosplay. I am participating in the masquerade with another cosplay, but we haven't gotten into the nitty gritty yet with the group due to school. 

I made a quick sketch of her as my inspiration plan of action. She seems like she'll be quite some work, although I also see it as a chance on having a colorful selection in comparison to Yuuki. I worked mostly with grays, whites, and a lot of black. Now there's a lot of colors of the rainbow!

So I am uber happy with the results from my trip. I went with Emi and two other wonderful friends, and we managed to go through some more stores than usual. For the fabric, I went through a large selection of organzas for her puffs, rayon prints, heavy cotton, taffeta, silks, and surprisingly, my first time woring with ombre!

The trims were absolutely amazing to find, and as always, the Avant Trims store is absolutely amazing in helping us find exactly what we need. I loved this trim interpretation from the start, and then that and the beautiful flower print made me too happy for words. I'm so happy I went with the print design for her, since I was inspired by some of the pre-made dresses I've seen going that direction.

Patterning everything might take a few tries, but I'm willing to be patient. I'm more than excited to get started!

For now, I'll be working slowly ad putting my school efforts on first, but keeping a good reminder of the tasks ahead always keep me on my toes.

Saturday I'll be going on another trip for my next cosplay, sot hat way I can simultaneously work on everything!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Short Update

A short update because my hands can't really do this right now.

School is pushing towards finals, so my biggest focus these upcoming weeks (as if it isn't already) is finishing up all of my classes as best as I can. I literally haven't slept in days sans the one moment my mother found me catnapping on the sofa. I think the exhaustion is getting to me though, and I'm at the point where I'm just refusing coffee.

Given that these past weeks have been hell on the moon for my hands with their popular demand, I'd really like to get through this semester with my hands in one piece and give them a little rest before the spring semester starts. All of my classes are currently online, so my computer time is maxed out and my hands are like, "Oh honey no."

The lovely news is my spring semester looks promising, and I love the classes I'll be taking. I'm planning on moving forward with classes that are career-friendly too. I've also started my trasnferring process to a new art college! I got the chance to finally doodle for the first time in like a month in between work breaks.

After school finals, Anime LA will basically become my life. I have an actual cosplay plan a month and a half ahead of schedule, but it also mainly these cosplays will be challenging my construction skills far more than Yuuki. I will still be bringing Yuuki, as I love the dress too much to just wear it once, but my Anime LA lineup seems to be very tropical and colorful.

At the moment, it also sounds like a full team reunion is going to happen too! There are some wonderful plans this holiday season and onward, but it'll take some strength and stamina to survive. More updates to come, and those pictures I promised.

Also I made an AMPLE account finally. I absolutely love the interface!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

20 Facts About Me

So I got tagged by a friend on Facebook to write facts about myself, and I've seen it going around on everyone's posts. I filled one out, and thus I also thought to post it here since they're really more about who I am and what I really do beyond cosplay.
  1.  I subconsciously think I’m eternally 17, and I apologize to anyone in the past if I’ve ever seamlessly said, “Oh, I’m 17!” I’ve been doing that every year after being 17, and I think it’s just me really just liking that age number. I’ve been carded before for saying this by accident. 
  2. My real name is Alexandra, but I’ve gone by Kagura as a nickname since I was 12 when it stuck in middle school after Fruits Basket came out. Ironically, I don’t know if I really have Kagura’s personality much, but she was also my first cosplay then too. I’ve come to love her personality more now than before as the manga made her more of a complicated person. I really love my real name though too, and I don’t usually go by Alex because that’s my brother’s name.
  3.  I’ve been cosplaying for almost 10 years, and consider the past 5 of them really focused on actual garment construction. The past years before, I basically was modifying clothing and though I rarely got commissioned items, I would try really hard to ghetto sew. It worked for appearances but I wanted to get better and really learn.
  4.  I don’t really tell people often what I’m studying, but I’m a game design major. I got inspired while working on a project that’s opened to me a whole new world of experiences. I’m transferring to a design college early next year as well to further my studies and networking, and am hoping to do more supplementary work in London in the future.
  5.  I have a huge addiction to Japanese visual novels. I’ve loved them since I was really young and confused them for anime. I’ve gotten chances to work on some projects to help and learn how to do digital illustration CG's and script work. I have my own small circle currently, and am hoping that together we can grow and push new ideas and projects in the future.
  6. I secretly obsess about Sailormoon fanfiction, and I have since I was about 15. I’ve never written any though, just love to read it! My absolute favorite is Usagi x Mamoru, which is my ideal dream OTP.
  7. I previously worked at a costume house for the film industry for a short but amazing period of time. During my time there, I was able to work on several projects and meet several film costume designers. I got to handle some classic film costumes that to this day, leave me in a surreal and grateful place.
  8.  I’m terrified of most horror movies -  I can’t even be near a TV that’s playing Jurassic Park (not even horror xD), but I adore the Alien series. I really don't know why, and I find Facehuggers absolutely adorable.
  9. Anything I cook explodes. I’m so terrible and clumsy at cooking or chemistry. At one point, my chemistry teacher told me to hand the tube to someone else while I did the calculations.
  10. I just think Europe is the place I should be at, somewhere there. I adore everything about European cultures, and hopefully I’d love to go travel and be inspired.
  11. My dream is to eventually work hard enough to compete in the World Cosplay Summit. I love cosplay, and I love the idea of being part of something that unites countries together creatively.
  12. I love classic literature and British period films. My first piece was David Copperfield when I was 10 because Daniel Radcliffe was in one of the film versions of it.
  13. I’m terrible with spoilers. I get so impatient that I spoil movie endings and shows. I also do that because I tend to get very anxious and sensitive about what I watch. Ironically, this doesn't apply to anime, but live-action violence sometimes gets to me, so I make sure it's something I can deal with.
  14. I love automatons and dolls. I think they’re fascinating, and a lot of my inspiration comes from them. And I absolutely love mannequins. I have a dress form I named Ema Heshire or Emy, after the mannequin from the film, Mannequin. (Mannequinception!)
  15. I have a homemade collage of Christian Bale magazine over my bed. It’s so outdated with The Dark Knight and Terminator Salvation photos, but I refuse to take it down. <3 
  16.  My favorite topics are usually about anything on psychology or surrealism. I’ve been a huge fan of David Lynch movies for a long time and my favorite anime of all time is Shoujo Kakumei Utena. I saw it when I was really young, but even then, I know I understood it. It’s a part of me now. I also like studying alchemy symbolism during my breaks at work. I’ve been fond also about the psychology of myths and fairy tales, and often read Jung or Von-Franz in the back room at work. 
  17.  I’m a self-taught graphic designer of 8 years, and consider myself as a trans-media artist since I like to blend all kinds of art into my work. I’ve been drawing for way longer than that too. 
  18. I’ve played the violin for over 10 years. I constantly practice and also compose my own solos and songs. I've performed and recorded before for some of my friend's local band events, and got the chance to be in their music video. My violin is actually a 200-year old custom Italian violin I named Constantine (Yeah, after the Keanu Reeves movie.).
  19. I have a huge obsession and love for Italo disco. My father introduced Italo disco to me when I was about 9, and since then I’ve seen some older bands live like Trans-X, collected and mixed dozens of songs, hear fantasy radios, and even now have my own Jupiter 8V, Cubase, and Arturia software to make my own. I dream of making my own Italo disco group and play at a crazy underground Italian disco club.
  20.  Arthurian Mythology is another huge part of my life. I love King Arthur and he is the basis of a lot of my allegorical artwork. I secretly think that I was Morgan le Fay in a past life. 

I think these help sum up quite a bit about me. More recently, I don't really go and share a whole lot other than cosplay photos and the occasion, "Oh my gosh, my homework is getting to me." moments, even on Facebook.
I don't really think I noticed how many different types of artsy things I like to do, I suppose. I once listened to a seminar by graphic designer April Greiman once for my graphic design class, and I not only loved her work but also felt that the term, "trans-media artist" really applies to me too. If I'm not doing one artistic thing a day, I find yet another.

When I was about 10/11, I had a teacher who really encouraged me to write down my stories. She and I still keep in contact, and she's seen a lot of my more recent work and what I'm studying, and she's pretty happy I found my way back to writing. I've kept a good record of the stories and ideas I have and it grows everyday.I love the research and inspiration part too. My friends also have great ideas, so we often sit and talk together and help one another. One of my close childhood friends is also studying creative writing after all those years of us bouncing ideas together.

I've been playing the violin since I was 12, and from there got to learn a bit more about other instruments like some basic piano, knowing the viola, and trying out the trumpet. When I was a kit, I really loved classical music. I listened to it for hours daily, and when I saw my local middle school's orchestra perform on Incoming Student Night, I immediately signed up. I'm the winner of the National School Orchestra Award for my high school too, which is still a huge honor for me.

My brother is also a drummer and plays flute, and then my younger sister is starting the piano soon. I know how to compose and transliterate music as well. I've worked with Finale for years and love adapting music to play solos or small groups. I even used to be in a small anime music quartet, except we were all students so it was a learning process.

I started graphic designing for little anime sites when I was about 14 and had started high school. It was a great hobby to have and I would spend my weekends working on something while jugglign AP classes. I moved on more towards helping school projects, local businesses, charity events, and musical sites shortly after high school. I still design, but it is more for my projects and also whenever I end up getting a burst of creative freetime to make a new wallpaper.

I started drawing since I was really little, but I don't think I really got super into it the way I am now till I was about 10/11. Right in middle school, I often drew for my classmates and then eventually that's also when anime became an even bigger part of my life and hobbies than before when I was just watching some shows. I began to practice more, and one of my friend's had a really talented older sister that inspired me too. 

In high school, I began dancing more too and learned Para Para. It's pretty easy to do, and I followed a lot of routines on Youtube from the old games and training videos. It ended up being a regular thing for a while, and while I still do it, I feel like I only can at the moment. I think the ability to perform however has helped encourage me to perform dances for skits, and I occasionally still hold panels.

I don't think anyone technically foresaw me making costumes as a huge part of my life. When I was 12, I saw an ad for Anime Los Angeles online when it was going to be first held, but they had then pushed it a year later for more time. I waited and remembered, and the very first time I went there, my family was confused but I was totally digging it. I went back on Saturday with my middle school friend Sara, and we had a pretty fun day getting to know the con, buy swag, and see all the amazing cosplayers. It inspired me to cosplay the very next year, and it became a reoccuring hobby for me to bring friends and go have fun.

From there, I really got into cosplaying because it was a pretty unique art. Granted, I was afraid of the sewing machine (an embarrassing truth) for a few years first, so I would modify things little by little, and my Kagura cosplay was commissioned by a family member. I also used to only have 1 wig, which was my pink Utena wig that I used for several other cosplays (except really Utena).

And then probably getting older in late high school, I began actually working on some of my cosplays a bit more, learning more how to sew, and actually try harder. It was a great way to also escape some of the harder times of my life back then. One summer, I just had a moment where I felt pressured to make a choice before entering senior year, so I thought because I loved cosplay, I could become a fashion designer.

It was a great idea, and it transformed into wanting to become a film costume designer. I went to college for a year and a half for it, but after my father passed away and my life was very confusing, I figured out that I lvoed costumes and cosplay, but as a hobby. I was a good student, but something was missing.

When I began getting my current circle of friends, they inspired me creatively to pursue game design, which I think is a way better fit for me and all the hard work I've put throughout the years. As an awesome byproduct, I think it also helped me see cosplay and costuming as more a hobby and has allowed it t bloom in its own way. Even as a hobby, I think it's opened so many doors for me emotionally, socially, and even professionally. It's kind of surprising that maybe just under three years ago, it was a hobby I wouldn't really talk about with people unless you were familiar with it. Nowadays, it's someting that my family members and people I know and work with are supportive of, and it means a whole lot to me.

I think cosplay in my life needed a purpose, so that's why I compete in some ways, but more than anything, it's about showcasing my art. I adore cosplay as being a way to globally communicate with others, and it's allowed me to make true and valuable friends and learn life's lessons along the way.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Post-PMX Review and well, let's get to ALA!

So the verdict is in....and Yuuki Kuran was victorious!

I won the Honorable Mention in Craftmanship at the Masquerade!

While loading the new pictures, here's the current picture I have of the completed cosplay for Yuuki:

I've been so exhausted since yesterday from all of the hectic amazingness that PMX was, and it was all quite worth it! So many experiences and all probably in less then 48 hours considering I missed nearly the whole Day 1 of the con unintentionally. Coming back to the reality, going back to work on a crowded day, everything hit me how these con experiences really add a break to the norm.

I honestly don't think I ever had gone to PMX, I really couldn't remember before, but getting there, everything felt so foreign that the only reason why I probably questioned why if I had been there before was because of the local area. It's right by ALA's current home, and previously had also stayed at the Renaissance nearby for this past AX with the gang. I have to admit that the layout was a little confusing, since because of it I msised some panels and locations. At the same time, I became acquainted with other common rooms - the Cosplay Lounge, which was super easy and convenient to find, and then ome of the main lobbies and boutiques.

In terms of PMX activities, as I said before, I unfortunately arrived late due to a plethora of mini-delays. I ended up making Tohru's blue dress cosplay for a Fruits Basket event that I totally missed. Unfortunately the gatherings were very small too. But the dress was made in less than an hour, bur surprisingly looked clean. It resulted in me having arrived to the hotel at around a late seven or eight at night, but was greeted to the awesomest roomies ever. My two good friends Emi and Rina were there and we enjoyed a little time having some good room pizza, and then I got to meet some of the other roomies who shortly trickled in after. Most of them were absolutely awesome, and over the course of the weekend, we all bonded and had a great time!

My swag totals came up to a higher price than other previous conventions, but I actually bought my first lolita JSK, a lovely Steampunk/aristocrat blouse, a pair of Justine et Juliette tights after which I got to greet the designer! and then bought Shii her birthday gift for tomorrow. I wanted to buy a new wig, but the Assist Wig booth only had a few samples, so I'll wait on it since I want to pick a good wig for a character I'm next planning on. I also got some awesome goodies and prizes on the side; a lot of PMX survivors have probably brought home a year's worth of Pocky from the ever-pink Pocky room, and then I got some post-masquerade and panel prizes too! 

My masquerade information and check in as hands-down one of the smoothest processes of any con. Having now competed at ALA, AX, and Fanime, PMX was clearly on time, prompt, and Mikari-san and the rest of the Masquerade Ops Team were some of the friendliest people I have ever met. They were so professional, hardworking, and absolutely supportive towards the contestants. It was made into an even better experience by also seeing the high level of sportmanship among the contestants. I bonded with a group of them and they were all just friendly and equally as creative to talk to! Turn out that we also had the awesome benefit of all actually winning!

Masquerade was one of the most fun experiences ever. Rehearsals were extremely great and a chance to also see the stage, work on getting to know my gown and wings a bit more, and the feedback from the previous was actually really strong. I was truly surprised. When the show went on, the nerves started, but I amde some great friends backstage and we all began boding about cosplay plans, similar nerves, crazy con stories, and everything else in between. A few of them also had some seriously amazing props, and I was so stunned by them! And the performance was great, I was absolutely in awe at the response and how people complimented me on my performance. I cant even begin to describe the feeling of being on stage, and even in muddled and heavy music, I just felt like for a brief moment, everything I had put all my heart and soul towards was there in front of everyone to see. I couldn't believe that all of the stumbles from the past rehearsal were gone, and I felt much better and comfortable. It was just, unbelievable. I think one of the hardest things to do in masquerade is to make a solo performance, because it's really all about how you can fill that space and truly entertain.

The response on wearing my gown both on the floor and on stage was overwhelmingly positive. I was praised for my craftmanship, attention to detail, my own design spin on the bottom of the gown, and overall the whole cosplay. It was a little harder to walk in, especially when taking the stairs, but one of the cutest thigns ever was one of the contestants was a little girl who cosplays as Suenaga Mirai. She's about six years old, and she is probably one of the cutest cosplayers I have ever seen. She's also absolutely sweet and loves talking to the contestants, and while on the floor, she somehow found me after rehearsals and ran up to give me a huge hug, saying how amazing my performance was and how much I looked like a princess. I couldn't believe it, and it just warmed my heart.

Winning an award for craftmanship seriously was memorable, considering that my goal was really to push my boundaries in my craftmanship. I think this was a great opportunity to see that I have advanced, even just from AX honestly, with my work and my ability to craft and fulfill that part of cosplaying that is special to me. I actually had originally asked for help from peers on this cosplay, and unfortunately no one was available at the time. In the end, it resulted to me finishing nearly every detail on the costume by myself, sans for one hem that my mother helped me on with the skirt trimming. It makes the award even more special to me.

Even after winning, I even got the chance to talk and share WCS talk with Ali of Fox Gloves Cosplay, who gave me her information and we just began talking all about WCS! She is part of the team that represented as Team USA with their Yuuko and Watanuki cosplays, the very cosplays that inspired Shii and I to work towards WCS soon! She is absolutely one of the nicest people ever to tak with, and she began sharing so much about international cosplay, WCS, and gave me so many compliments about carrying the spirit of WCS. It was just amazing. I'm so pumped to work hard at it! I really think I know what I want to do in cosplay now, and to keep working at conventions and trying harder, as well as really envisioning myself as a trans-continental cosplayer. I want to travel the world and explore cosplay, and really feel the experience of cosplaying under that nation's culture. My dream of going to Japan Expo in Paris is being realized!

Day 3 was all about lolita and J-fashion, and I got to see my first fashion show! I went with Rina's husband and some new friends to see Rina and Emi model for some huge brands, and I was floored by all of the beautiful dresses and brands. I was so happy to have really had the chance to watch my friends do what's most important to them too!

I also got to participate in Iron Cosplay, and our team won 3rd place with a hysterical attempt at a Fallen Angel Seifuku. I was partnered with two really awesome new cosplayers, Rachel and Richard, and we all became fast friends and went to the fashion show together. They are absolutely awesome!

The convention pretty much ended with me celebrating with junk food and sharing some laughs with the friends. I think I've made so many more friends than ever during this experience. I made friends with my roomies, who I hadn't known well at first and we've all become pretty chill with each other, and Emi and Rina and I all had some great bonding time together. It was so awesome to see Rina and her husband together too! He came and waited for nearly five hours to see her at the fashion show!I met two great new friends through Iron Cosplay, ended up sitting for four hours till dawn hearing philosophical stories through the night, made new lolita fashion friends,and made great new masquerade friends and connections. I think also in the long run, I also feel like I got more respect for my craft and hard work. It felt revitalizing.

My  Yuuki coplay was intended to be a new milestone and a segway into what I consider to be a Phase 2 in my life as a lifestyle cosplayer. I don't think I entered cosplay in hopes of becoming famous or anything super like that, but really as a fan and an artist, a way to truly express myself and share the talents I have acquired throughout the years in art, music, design, fashion, dance, and even a little theatrics that I don't outwardly use on a daily basis. I think this was a wonderful opportunity for me to see my own personal growth not only as a cosplayer, but as a human being. The experience of being in this cosplay was one that truly tested my abilities as a cosplayer and seamstress, but also having the ability to juggle work, school, and a heavy amount of sewing work all into one place. And clearly, my health was a challenge too. My hands survived and endured, although they are probably a bit sore right now from all of the commotion and then coming so quickly back to work. I have them on a brace again, but taking a small break and making better plans to break up my work as well.

In the long run, I see this as a turning point where I really now understand where I sit with cosplay. I'm only more inspired to run with it further, as even minutes before I went on stage, I mentioned to someone, "Maybe tonight, it'll all change and I'll be wanting to get there further to WCS." I suppose WCS is aa Holy Grail dream. It's possible, with lots of hard work, but I think in the long run, it's also about making possibilities open in the future for me. I can't even begin to express how happy I feel in realizing how many friends and connections I've met, and people who legitimately made this experience so much worth while, but alsohave instilled this promsie that future conventions will be just as fun because of them. I also terribly missed my usual gang, but it's inspired me and them to all reconnect and now see ALA as our way of combining all of these new experiences and adding more fun to the mix!

Pictures will hopefully be added soon, but also I'm meeting the usuals tomorrow to celebrate Shii's birthday and also to get a foundation laid for our new plans. We actually on the car ride to drop me off to PMX had a change of heart with our original ALA masquerade choice, and it resulted in us picking another idea we think will absolutely be more fun and enjoyable for all of us. So much work is to be hard, but here we go again!

On the side, I think I am planning on another fun cosplay to make for ALA. Will it be more rigorous than Yuuki? We shall see. I have a few on my list I'm now tempted to try, but I would have to start now and not December when finals are on. For masquerade, I have chosen a cosplay that's a little out of my comfort zone, but here's to new experiences!

My next post will probably be either pictures or cosplay construction details on how I completed Yuuki in about a week and a half nearly nonstop. <3

Friday, November 1, 2013

Post-Halloween and Pre-PMX

Happy November!

I can honestly say I remember very little about what happened in all feels like an odd blur of homiegoshness. I haven't had a proper chance to post a decent, Happy Halloween! although I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween.

I'll add pictures of progress work, I promise! But this year I completed Hermione and it was fun being her! I worked on the costume till the last minute before I headed off to my good friend's house, which was absolutely fun. All the friends were around and we were goofing off and playing Project Runway (psssst Michael Kors digs my designs. xD).

But unfortunately what I do remember of October was I actually got Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on both my left and right hands, which are now in wrist braces. Over the past couple weeks, I've been really working hard on my homework, juggling work and then trying to sew and get other items done. Unfortunately my consistent lack of sleep and lack of breaks have probablymade things a bit worse. Stress has been a bit higher than usual, and it's resulted in me needing to see a doctor finally and taking a bit of a step back from being so intense about my homework. ~_~;; My teacher has been absolutely understanding however, and thanks to him, I've been able to work through what I can do for the meantime till the pain subsides.

Surprisingly though, sewing through Yuki has been a peaceful experience. I've only got the sleeves done, which have required a lot of sewing and handwork on it, and still so much left! Today and tomorrow I will be working on the bodice and getting more work done. Next Friday is PMX!

I went from just thinking of going for one day to the con to three days, because I ended up getting a room with Emi and some of her friends too. It'll be a new experience! Already we're discussing ALA though, so the fun never really ends.

I'll have more progress pictures up soon, but it'll be about keeping things light and easy. The excitement is growing!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

An Everything Update

Well, I survived my midterm. I stayed up till about 7am finishing everything up, but it was overall a pretty smooth experience. I had one strong cup of coffee and pretty much worked through my sleepiness.

So I went to purchase items firstly for my Hermione costume. I bought fabric for the skirt and the robes. I initially wanted to make the robes with the lovely black lining on the inside like the first two film designs, but the red just called out to me. Tomorrow I'll likely get to the robe, and I'll have to purchase a frog and then my Gryffindor patch should be arriving on Monday. Also my sweater should be arriving tomorrow! Whee!

If I finish Hermione tomorrow, I'll likely move on to working on some patterns for Yuki's dress. After some thinking, I realized that I have been wavering so much about whether to cosplay and go to PMX or not because of all of the craziness outside of my cosplay life. It's productive no doubt, but it does burn you out. I think though I'll enjoy the process, no matter how arduous. I purchased some masquerade supplies shortly after my midterm last night too, so I'm excited!

And on top of that, I finally properly tried on my Yuki uniform. <3 The pictures are terrible, but I am happy I had the OTKs and boots as part of my daily wear. Sadly, I lack the bracelet so I'll need that soon, and to repair a few crystals from it. This is made by an awesome Taobao commission shop where I also purchased my Homura cosplay. Sometimes I like commissioning a uniform that I just won't get to, but I want to have regularly as a go to cosplay.

Ghetto as time, but that mirror. I apologize. But I think it came out quite nicely! I absolutely love the color and design of this uniform. I have to brush the wish a lot more, but I managed to style it enough to get some bangs going on in there too. The wig is from an awesome Taobao store called Grand Young Wigs.

No makeup desu, but it's quite a lovely cosplay. I might wear it tomorrow to a local event to see if I can purchase my very first Assist Wig! I finally have the funds and I'm so excited! Hopefully I'll try to get decent shots of my uniform too. It's actually super comfy too!

So likely tomorrow I'll be sewing some more, taking it easy, and then coming home at night with a lovely new wig. <3 I'm not sure which one I want, perhaps a wig for Nepgear or Bernkastel? 

And to finish the night, another doodle: 


Friday, October 18, 2013

Random Art Moment and 3AM Midterm

So this post might only have *one* valuable reason.

Bahaha, finally some digital art piece for this site. #_# I actually realized how rarely I put art in here, but I also added it to my (slow but still existing) tumblr too. I rarely get the opportunity to site down and work on my art, though I actually should...and this was a really quick one.

It features Serena with an alternate outfit I decided off the top of my head. Originally it was going to be a derpy mid-time doodle, but I got to fleshing it out a bit more. It's made on Sai like the others, and I just keep on practicing slowly but surely. She's probably the cutest starter I've seen though. <3

I'm still waiting on getting the Pokemon X till probably early November to keep myself away from being distracted by anything that isn't school/work/cosplay. The nice thing is that my classes at the moment have allowed me to practice my digital artwork while also making some nice pieces for class (and resume/portfolio).

So it's about 3:30 AM and yes, I'm going to be taking a midterm online. It might take me till the early dawn to finish it, but mehhhh, one less thing to worry about this week.

And really, these past few weeks, or should I say months since AX, have been extremely challenging for me, since quite honestly, I've never gotten the hang of balancing being a full time student and going to work, and competing all at the same time. My previous jobs weren't as long, or I lived meagerly out of freelancing, but here I am now, knowing that I needed to develop stable job skills. Work is honestly great, and it's also amazingly fortunate to have a boss and coworkers who like and respect what I do. Years back, I think cosplay was something that you just briefly mentioned and tried to pass it off as some kind of weekend Mardi Gras. It still kind of is, but at least it's a bit more out and in the open.

Nonetheless, it's not hard to find dozens of people who balance all this daily. Somehow and some way, they get it. And I'm getting there too. I think the month of October is a refreshing one, but it's gotten to be admittedly demanding. I have a hard time telling people no when I probably should ~ I've gotten quite a few more commission requests from local friends lately, but they're all super late! It sucks t not be able to get to them, and yes, I do have to unfortunately say no, but it really feels blaaaaah. D=

And in all of this, I haven't even had the time once to work on my cosplay for PMX. I technically have two, although the former I might be able to quickly wedge in there. However goodness, I honestly don't know at this point if I will get Yuki done. I'm going to fight it, fight that laziness and over-burned work overtime desu to do this. I feel like a part of me is honestly very clogged with worries and being intimidated by the dress that it feels harder than it probably is. Don't get me wrong, that thing must be massively hard, but there's always a way. It's been done before. It's probably unwise to do it in a rush, but here's to me trying this out honestly.

I think I just need to refocus and remember why I picked it, and why I'm doing it. I love Vampire Knight, and I love this cosplay, and I think when done right, it can be a great reflection of my work. I am a little sad that I might have to go through this masquerade a bit alone again, but luckily I have wonderful friends I'll be spending time with at the convention itself to counter all that. I should have updated soon, and have a goal to sew all day Saturday, along with my Halloween costume!

Last year for Halloween, I made a costume for Daphne Blake from Scooby Doo for a group with our main cosplay group/friends group. Unfortunately, Shii got terribly sick that day and we had to cancel our plans, so it was a lonely Halloween. We're going to try again, as well as attending some usual friend's parties. I was thinking a few ideas at first of being the Ham from To Kill a Mockingbird, Marion from Indiana Jones, or HR Pufnstuf, but either they fizzled out or were too expensive. I then began thinking about when I was a child, who did I want to be for Halloween the most since I actually never dressed up till I was in high school. And bahahaha, Hermione was my first choice.

I was called Hermione throughout primary school when the books came out. Admittedly, I was probably as obsessed with school and books. ~_~;; But I loved her! I purchased the sweater vest from Whimsic Alley, an absolutely amazing place, and I'm buying fabric tomorrow for the skirt and the robe. I also purchased the patch online, her wand, tie, and the socks. My wig is my good ol' Priscila wig, and I have a collared shirt I use for uniforms, and of course, dozens of books! Now I wish I hat a cat named Crookshanks!

So after much avoiding...I think it's time for me to get this midterm over with. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pacific Media Expo 2013 Plans and Updates

So after some week of being sick, I'm slowly getting better but with so many delays in getting anything productive done! Besides rest, it's been mostly about work and trying to get homework done, and somehow obsessively deciding to tinker with my homework projects some more.

Either way, the awesome news is that I was accepted to participate at the Pacific Media Expo 2013's masquerade! This is so exciting! I haven't been to PMX (at least I don't think I have) but I think I almost went since my friend had a panel there years back. So it will be an awesome first time!

My only sad regret is that Shii will be able to attend PMX but she's on a budget right now and might not be able to do much in a role for the skit beyond helping with ninja-work. But no worries, because we have an amazing plans for next con! She's going to be putting all her funds and efforts to that definitely, so it's all going to be good!

In silly news however, this sort of places me a time limit on finishing Yuki, when basically all I have done is just the headpiece...not really, well, sort of. I finished my busload of homework and have a few days off this week and next to get started, and it helps that my work is actually pretty supportive of my artistic endeavours. I'm also hysterically planning on making that scythe. Seizei ganbatte~ ^^;;

I do have a masquerade concept I really came up with, and so at this point it's going to be about focusing myself and getting it all together. I think it's going to be a fun walk on the more serious side though when it comes to the skit's overall theme. Vampire Knight was a pretty intense story, so I really want to strive for something that does the story justice. 

Before I get to work on all that though, I have a commission to fulfill that I'm near finishing for this weekend. My friend Justin (our Zelgadis) commissioned me for a vest for his League of Legends World Finals cosplay. He's doing a genderbent design of  Season II Championship Riven, which is actually a pretty cool cosplay in itself! He designed the whole concept for it and is making the armor himself since he's pretty great at working with props and armor!

I made the vest, and I'm going to be adding pictures soon of it when I put it on Emmy the Dressform for a nice presentable shot. It's actually made out of faux suede and is basically self lined, light, and easy to wear in order to pile on the layers of clothing and armor without it becoming too unbearable and hard to walk in.

I'm actually quite pleased with the craftsmanship of the vest, to be honest. The material really does the trick too! I'm pretty excited to see him wear the whole cosplay at the finals, and though I won't be there, I'm also glad to hear that other fellow friends and cosplayers will be partaking in it!

So beyond that, I currently have awesome sauce plans for the following week for a fun, slightly impromptu (a planned impromptu) trip to a fun place up north (not too north!) for a mini-vacation. I likely will coordinate with some of the others in the group, and it'll just be a fun and silly experience since most of us haven't hung out since school started!

And then Taobao, might get on another order soon. Maybe it'll come before November, or should I wait? I have some cute dresses I really want to buy now, or at least send payments for so I can get them before Christmas time, so I might do a small order of little items and then have a bigger order for Christmas with my dresses. Blah! I shall not go crazy with shopping!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Taobao Order has Arrived!

Gah, perfect timing!

My Taobao order arrived while I was asleep and feeling rather sick with a sore throat. I kept dreaming that I was opening up my package and looking through all my stuff.

Eventually I woke up and walked to the kitchen to find my package sitting on the floor! My mother had brought it in while I was asleep. So immediately, I opened it up like a kid during Christmas (durrhurr, I'll be making a Christmas order!) and running around looking for scissors to open my items with.

So here's a collage of what I ordered (you could probably click to view the full size):

So I mostly bought for myself, my mother, and my sister, yet there are two wigs belonging to Emi, and my two other cosplay friends.

Everything was absolutely nice!!

Things my friends got:
- The Stocking wig and the pink Yuno wig belong to my friend Emi, who's cosplaying them for PMX.
- My other friend got the two sets of Junko's hairclips for her Junko cosplay from Dangan Ronpa.
-  My last friend got the eyeball patches, a GEEK beanie, and a super cute cupcake dessert hoodie.

Things I got for my sister and mother:
- I bought my sister the assortment of different headbands, and the dolphin ones were definitely the cutest!
- I also bought her a really cute little pink rabbit purse, and it's bigger than I thought!
- For my mother besides the makeup, she chose a really pretty pink purse. When we opened it, it was actually like the picture!

Things I got:

- A new purse and wallet! They are both from different stores, but I think they are actually from the same brand. They make the most adorable purses, and the stores were also filled with alternate styles with princes and English guards. I originally had selected another British-inspired purse but it was sold out everywhere. So, I chose this one instead after seeing hoe closely it resembled my old circus vector project, which is also responsible for my site's header. I found the cute matching wallet after some searching, and it's surprisingly really convenient! Has several large pockets and some awesome compartments. 

- New lip tints of various colors, though I regret not getting the orange. That probably would have been really cool. The pinks were especially cute, and I rarely ever had a decent red tint! These tints are also really wet and stronger than most tints, but I feel like with the proper foundation, they're going to stick around much longer than my usual tints. I also recently bought a blood red tint and an orange one that looks all right!

- Little trinkets and items. I got a pair of super cute Union Jack earrings in the shape of hearts, some little ball hairbands (they only had blue at the store but I love them so much!), some small add-on gifts, and a red Soul Gem I bought extra for my Yuki cosplay, since I wanted to opt for one instead of a red blood vial. 

- Various other makeup for my mother and I, including new compact powders, eyeliner pencils (which are super good as usual!), eyebrow mascara that's really nice, eyelash glue, and sponges. I also bought a really cute makeup travel bag so I could put some of my regular touch-up makeup in there for work (the little polka dot bag). They threw me in an extra light toned balm, which is super nice for casual days.

My Yuki Vampire Knight cosplay was included!! It's actually really nice, but when I opened it up, I noticed that two of the little crystal gems are missing from the collar. I'm going to be able to fit it though, so it'sno worries! The fit is also really nice, and it's made of a standard uniform fabric. The style is really nce too, and the jacket fits perfectly. I'm so happy that it's super comfortable and I wore it with my derpy bangless Yuki wig for now, and gah. I am happy. I even have Yuki's boots, which are my daily shoes, and I bought the tights for them too.

- I bought two collars, one that's made out of faux fur and has lace and ribbon trims. This is for putting over winter coats to make them look cuter! I also bought a cute lace one for my normal tops, and it's very soft and lovely. From the same store, I also bought the plaid bow, and it has a safety pin so you can add it anywhere.

-  I bought an assortment of really cute socks - 1 pair of white ruffled ones, two pairs of grey kluni knitted ones and one chocolate brown, and a pair of black short polka dot ones. They are all super cute and are of thick quality.

- I bought three wigs:
    - The first one was my long chocolate brown one for my Yuki Kuran cosplay, and it is from Grand-Young wigs. I love the long wigs that I have from them already, and I wasn't disappointed.  The fibers are smooth and don't tangle very much, and all it really needs is some bang trimming.
    - The second wig is a curly dark brown one from Rain Cosplay, where I also buy a lot of my wigs. I like the wig but I'm not wowed by it. I think I might have to fix the bangs a little before wearing it, but the curls are super nice. I might fiddle with the wig a bit to get a good shape. The color is lovely!
    - The last wig is my favorite! It's been edited in color and a bit of the fluff is probably from teasing it on the picture, but it's absolutely adorable! It's a really nice light honey brown color, and the bangs sit nicely and can be teased a little. I could probably fluff out a lot more of the wig after combing through it, but it's just adorable that I cannot express. It's probably one of the longest of my natural wigs, and I just can't get enough of it.
Without any editing, the wig is actually a little darker and  really nice. I love how smooth it is up top and how natural the waves start to take over. I put on a pair of sunglasses because of two derpy reasons:

1. That Coconuts model makes the glasses + wig combo look massively cute.
2. I'm sick and I look massively derpy.

I think this one might be my new regular go-to wig. <3

Overally, I'm super happy with all of my items. I'm probably doing an order soon, though I'm saving up my money and buying things that weigh way less because the shipping was ohsnaptoomuch. But it's so worth it, and I able to buy really cute things that I'm going to be regularly using.

Hnnng, now to wait till Christmastime to shop!

Romeo x Juliet Shots

So I just wanted to quickly post a couple images that we got back from the event!

Credits to Kayumi Lam for the images, they're actually really lovely!

The beginning of the sit, and a pretty good view of the full dress!

Shii then entered the stage and she and I both unraveled the flower veil. There was a lot of wind, so it caught a great deal of air, an this is a pretty good shot of how high we got it to go. Shii also looks wonderful as Romeo!

Our standard Romeo and Juliet pose. xD Might I add that this is such a cool angle of the layers Shii cut into her Romeo wig. It also doubles as her Ciel and Sohma Yuki wig. <3

This is my favorite picture ever, because of how beautiful the light is casted on Shii and I look so ambiguous. You can see a great deal of flow on the dress, and we just look so tranquil and happy!

A super special and heartfelt thanks to Mikarin and Hagi, who were absolutely wonderful and gave us the pleasure of being part of this amazing group. All of the other cosplayers did an amazing job and were so inspiring to hear about. We all come from different backgrounds, yet we're all united together through cosplay.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

And the verdict is...


I fnished Juliet, cutting it super close, but it was very much worth it! The day feels like a bit of a continuous blur to me at the moment, but I wanted to take the moment to post about the Cosplay Exhibition today, which went wonderfully regardless of some challenges!

So since that previous post, yes, the cosplay was finished! It was a bit of a painful challenge at the last minute, mostly because the cosplay is still quite oddly constructed. I do plan in the future to challenge myself and remake Juliet following a bit more rules when sewing, but nonetheless, the dress actually looked remarkably clean and well draped, especially with the new white skirt additions I made. In all honesty, I didn't get to fix up the collar and the sleeves the way I had wanted them to be, but they were optional at this point. A lot of my time had been devoted to making sure the peplum and the skirts looks all right. Surprisingly enough, it looked pretty decently draped.

Shii and Yukito arrived while I was finishing up and had gone to the store to buy soe last minute white flowers for a costume prop. I ended up buying several small bouquets of fake white lilies and irises, and then a light sparkling cream organza. We made a "scroll" out of wooden dowels, the organza, and the white lilies covering the edges of the wood. I came up with the prop idea the night before after trying to figure out what to use for my dance.

 The traffic was absolutely terrible on the way there, and it was already a two hour drive, but Shii made it as smoothly as possible. We hadn't gotten a chance to eat and rest up, and I had been very tired from not sleeping. I only had about an hour of sleep that I took from 9-10am because by that time, I was referring to my sewing machine as Claire Daines, and figured that that was the sign to take a break.

We were so massively delayed but Mikarin was absolutely sweet and understanding about the situation. When arriving, she and Hagi were so kind and supportive towards all of the cosplayers there, despite that there was clearly a lot of delays coming from the festival itself that they had to deal with. The festival was in a cool area with some nice food stalls, vendors, and a performance area.

Some of the cosplays were absolutely amazing! They all had a wide range of selections, from very cute characters, to fighter characters, video game characters, and really elaborate ones too! It was so awesome to be part of the group. Mikarin was also absolutely wonderful and allowed Shii to participate during my skit as Romeo to my Juliet since she had worn Romeo to accompany me during the trip there. We ended up reworking the dance last minute to feature the two of us holding the scroll together!

The event ended and Mikari and I made plans for some future cosplays we have planned together, and she was happy to have met Shii as well. I'm so glad! We'll be doing a fun cosplay coming soon in November for Pacific Media Expo!

So on the side, I wanted to really just use this as a great landmark on how awesome things worked out for my cosplay, for having Shii be a part of it since we've cosplayed for so long together now, and just how much dedication and timewe've shared together throughout the years.

She mentioned something to me that I had totally forgotten all these years. Originally as I mentioned in a previous entry, Juliet was meant to be worn for Anime LA 2012. I didn't finish it even though I brought parts of it to the hotel room, and Romeo was never even worked on at all. But Juliet had several components done, most of them that are still purposely intact because of how oddly yet decently put together they are. Nonetheless, I actually didn't get to spend much of the convention's Day 2 morning because of some unforseen circumstances, so by the mid-afternoon, I had pretty much given up even wearing a cosplay and we had dropped out of the masquerade. So my friends and I watched the event and during the halftime show, we actually heard the theme to Romeo x Juliet, to which I started to cry because of how overwhelming it was to not finish Juliet due to so many reasons, and how overwhelming everything had been at the time.

I told people that the cosplay was hard to finish because it as a painful memory, not from leaving it unfinished, but because it was created during such a hectic time in my life. However, seeng it now, I realized that the cosplay represents something that helped me change throughout the years. It does surely contain all of those tough memories, but it'sc reated new ones too. I wore Juliet as my first masquerde experience, even if unpracticed and derpy. The red fabric was actually a great deal of extra fabric I had from my old Furudo Erika cosplay from AX 2011 that I finished in the hotel room. The original shapes were freehanded patterns that I made in literally 24 hours and rival some of my better pattern drafting pieces. The new elements also included white satin from Belldandy's remnants, which represents the original cosplay cocie I wanted for this even as well as it being one of my favorite cosplays. The wig is Asuka's wig, because Mari's was too deep and straight. The flower hairclip was from my Yuno cosplay from Anime LA 2011.

This cosplay is special to me for these reasons. They remind me of how much practice I've had in learning how to make costumes for myself to enjoy them to their fullest. I felt happy to be wearing Juliet not only because I love her character so much, but because the cosplay represents the ideal cosplay character I've strived to work ahrd to achieve towards. There's still so much to improve, but it's like a checkpoint towards a greater goal and greater results. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Almost there, Juliet!

So some progress before I go back to sewing. Side blog story time moment, but it was actually a fun and fulfilling day! I thought it was going to be a quiet day till I woke up to an amazingly cloudy and cold day! Then, had a much-needed lunchtime and sweets break with Shii, and left with another good friend to go see a local company's rendition of Shakepeare's Cymbeline, which was absolutely awesome! Topped it off with a wonderful dinner and now I'm all back to work!

I'm in for a massively long night and day tomorrow, and somehow on Sunday will have to squeeze work and some homework on the side. Thankfully, not a long day for that, I hope!

Progress has been slow but all right this week on Juliet. I have till 2ish to finish her, and realized last minute that I will have to shop for the items for my rose baton tomorrow. ~_~

I actually had to stop working for one night on it because I had a commission to fill for the new League of Legends Finals here in downtown Los Angeles! Justin, our Zelgadis, of Just OK Cosplay commissioned me for a vest for a new project he's got going on, and it's absolutely crazy awesome that I had the chance to finish nearly 80% of it already! Once this is all said and done for my festival performance, I'll be finishing up his items and then moving on towards Yuki again.

 Nonetheless, the process for Juliet's gone a little different than I had imagined. Originally, I noticed that some of the parts were oddly sewn together to the point that I didn't want to try sewing it but alas, it actually sits in pieces at the moment. I took it apart. I had to, and it was slightly painful but becaue of it, I managed to fix the peplum as best as I could and added horsehair braiding it for a little bounce.

I also removed what I ca only describe as a bizarre purple half-bustle thingy I made when I misinterpreted the design of the dress. It was this light cotton flap of purple that had no business being there. I'm going to be sewing  light white fabric skirt with some light ruffles. Then I'm hoping to add a string of violet ruffles along the bottom if I can get to them.

Then another favorite new part of mine is adding some lace to some of the designs! I am fixing the collar a bit more, and then added a new center gem instead of the small one I originally had. It's actually a stand-in jewel for Belldandy, but it seems so perfect for Juliet!

And then I combined two pieces of really pretty cluny lace that I found to make her lace decorations for her sleeve. These are actually inspired by the design I originally found:

Looking at this all over again, I want to remake the peplum. WHYYYY.

Here's the current progress I have by combining the nice cluny lace though:

So by some magical miracle, this will be done! And I'm so excited! I will be doing a dance as Juliet, so it'll be something wonderful to remember!

Now to hope for the best and wish that everything will be wonderful!

If you're around the Southern California area, come to the Asian Pacific Festival to come and support the cosplayers, as well as see all the wonder other exhibitors and events going around! I learned recently that the location is called the Newport Dunes Resort, and it seems like an absolutely beautiful place for a festival!

Edit @ 9AM: Sweet Moholy Nagy, I'm still awae and thriving! Taking a quick break, but this is progress now:

I ended up redoing this piece a few times, and there's still some ruffles and horsehair left. I love though that I was at least able to get the white skirt to look flowy, as well as the peplum!

Still left to do before 2pm:

  • Add lace to the sleeves
  • Fix Cuffs (I have no idea how I made them last time...well, this applies to a lot on this costume.)
  • Add the bottom ruffles if I can get to it
  • Add more back ruffles and then horsehair braid
  • Fix collar if I can get to it, and replace the gem
  • Clean bits here and there
  • Iron the massive heckles out of it!
So here we go! Crunch time!

For more information, schedules, and ticket pricing:

And please come and support Takeriya Samurai and the other awesome cosplayers who are part of this event!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Updates and Cosplay - Juliet Capulet 1.5 - Romeo x Juliet

Taking a quick break from Yuki's cosplay progress, I wanted to make a quick post that I was invited by the really lovely and talented Mikarin of Takeriya Samurai Cosplay to be a participant in her Cosplay Exhibition at the Asian Pacific Festival in Newport Beach, CA on September 21! It was an absolute honor to be asked to be one of the cosplayers, and her entire premise of the exhibition is absolutely wonderful and honest. Each performer will get about a minute or so to present their costume and do a mini-skit while having a narrator talk about their cosplay background. My biggest focus was on how much I love to teach panels and help others in cosplay.

I often write about how I love cosplay as a hobby that helps others and myself grow from it. I love being able to look back throughout the years and see how I've improved skill wise, but personality and my ability to make friends with others as well. I'm very blessed that I have a wonderful amount of friends and connections from this hobby, and I do everything I can to try to give back to the community as well.

So, Mikarin's exhibition focuses on why we love to cosplay, why it means to us and how hard we work on oru cosplays and share our love and support to the craft and hobby with each other and other members of the community. It's about how we help and strive to make this community a fun place for those of all experiences and interests to come together and remember why we cosplay in the first place: to have fun, learn about ourselves and others, make friends, learn a skill, challenge the way you see your life and the world.

It's quite nice to have this kind of event happening right during all of this Heroes of Cosplay drama. I don't want to go too much into it, but clearly it's brought up a great deal of debates within the community and particularly how the cosplay culture has shifted towards different intentions. Yet this exhibition is a great way to draw our attentions to the positives and remember those good feelings about cosplay!

I originally wanted to wear Belldandy for the event, although I felt that to wear her, I'd need a complete rehaul of all of the jewelry and the details I wanted to fix, including the underdress. While i have a bit more time this wee to get some sewing done, I feared that I wouldn't get supplies in time without grinding against the clock. While going through my cosplays, I sat there wondering what would make me feel the happiest and most comfortable to wear. Although I like Yuuko, I think I might need a bit more time till I wear her again. I love Cecilia and my other uniforms, but I feel like they're missing something more.

Then I remembered about Juliet after spotting the bag in a lonely corner. Juliet was one of my dream cosplays after seeing the series in high school. I completed her actually in summer 2012 after working on her initially for ALA of that year, and then wore it to AX for a whopping two to three hours (however long masquerade takes). Based on the nature of the event, something inside me brought me back to this nostalgic and powerful feeling. Even though the cosplay has a long story filled with memories, there was something so special to me about it that I tried to deny but cannot any longer.

It must have been like sophomore year when the series came out, but I absolutely loved the premise and the setting of Neo Verona. I think Romeo is one of the handsomest anime characters ever, and Juliet's one of my favorite since she reminds me so much of Utena! I didn't read the manga till years later when a friend at the time gave me her copy of it after finishing it. I took it on a plane ride when going out of town for the winter, and all I did was reread through the manga. At the time, I thik I also connected with Juliet much more because of where I was at the time, and my friendship circle was going through so many changes, good and bad.

Coming back from my trip, ALA was near and I knew I wanted to be Juliet for the convention.To this day my friends and I joke that I actually "sewed in my sleep" for some parts of the sleeves because it was such an arduous time for all of us. I didn't think twice to buy all my materials, though in a rush I ordered the wrong colored wig (it was like a crimson red!) and I had to settle with a cotton material instead of something more evening-wear. Nonetheless, I worked with what I had and actually don't remember how I even tackled most of that dress. I wasn't thinking when I worked on it apparently, but there were so many "first tries" and "hail marys" done on it that I'm still shocked to this day that it fits so nicely. Some of the more complicated parts of the costume were done so quickly on the first try, yet I have yet to remember how I actually did them.

I asked a good friend to be Romeo, and I was going to finish sewing it until that convention got very side tracked with unrelated issues. I missed like half of the convention time and by that point, I was so tired and burnt out that I couldn't bear finishing Juliet. I hadn't sleptin days, everyone was stressed, and we eve pulled out from out other skit to just rest and refresh to enjoy the rest of the con. Because of how difficult that time was, I put away Juliet and didn't think twice about how poorly I cared for it. I feel so terrible now admitting this. Eventually, I wanted to wear a new cosplay for AX after how ALA had gone, so I forced myself to bring back Juliet. With my other friend unavailable to be Romeo, Shii took on Romeo and sewed him with the fabric we had initially purchased back in January.

I finished most of Juliet in the AX hotel room after taking Day One off. It had been a long few months, so I took my time and I didn't fare too well with the crowd on Day 0, so I figured to just stay behind and finish her up. It was well worth it, since I got the chance to work through it and help Shii complete Romeo till the very last minute. We wore it for a ballroom dancing skit that we made with a lare group of our cosplay friends. It wasn't anything serious, but we just wanted to do a skit for once. Needless to say, that's what got us into making better skits together!

There's so much more behind the cosplay and what it means to me than I want to elaborate on here, but after seeing it yesterday, I felt so moved about what the character and costume mean to me. It's ironic that I didn't make that cosplay in the most peaceful of times, yet it reminds me of something warm and innocent. I think it's also because I just secretly want to be a princess in a ball gown. ^^' However, I feel like it's so appropriate to wear her for this event. Granted, while it fits like a glove still after all this time, there's so much I have to remake. The jewels had fallen from me simply putting the cosplay away, and I am tempted to remake some of the flounces. It needs a great deal of ironing, cleaning, and hemming, and then I might add a little bit of new details to it with whatever budget I have left over. And also, I think I've improved significantly on my makeup and I have at least a better wig this round. And I think confidence. I think in the past, I let the cosplay wear me, but I think this time it'll be the other way around, or at least a good balance.

I took a massively derpy picture of me wearing it after all these years, and there's so many painfully obvious details missing. The jewels are missing except for one, and urgh, it's begging to be ironed. I have another picture where I'm holding the cosplay up, and it looks absolutely bonkers and wrinkled. I think it's my big goal to transform this piece into something neat and while it may not necessarilythe most hardcore level of my work, it's something that's a balance of a cosplay I love, a pretty decent job ad a learning experience, but also something that is special to me.

And on other unrelated news, I finally added some extra profile links on this site! I decided to finally update my own Facebook page after having made one months ago. I'm so bad at being up with the times and making pages and whatnot, but it'd be nice to have a place to put all of my plans and work outside of these long essays I write here. I'll try to update frequently! I also have a lovely photographer and friend helping me coordinate a few shoots to showcase some of these cosplays I've been working on. Hopefully I'll have more pictures of Juliet!

So tl;dr! If you're around the Southern California area, come to the Asian Pacific Festival to come and support the cosplayers, as well as see all the wonder other exhibitors and events going around! For more information, schedules, and ticket pricing:

And please come and support Takeriya Samurai and the other awesome cosplayers who are part of this event!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Cosplay - Preliminary Yuki Kuran Progress

So to be honest, I've had dozens of progress photos throughout the months of all the work I've done and talked about here, although most of it's on my phone. ^^' I didn't bother to realize I could photobucket a massload of those photos from my phone so here's to hopefully having more recent posts! I'm hoping to make a couple more updates on older cosplays with better pictures.

I want to start out by saying that I've never been a huge fan of vampires outside of reading Dracula and Carmilla. It's mostly because I have a issue with blood and when I was younger, I was scared of vampires in general. In high school, I read through a good amount of Vampire Knight however because I was a fan of Hino Matsuri's work (MeruPuri) and gave this one a shot. I liked it enough that I watched the two seasons of the anime, and occasionally used scans for some of my desktop graphics and a web layout for a site I staffed at. A few months ago before Fanime, I bought the artbook after seeing an extra centerfold about the process Hino-san used to color her illustrations. I love all of the pictures in there, her art is gorgeous and beautifully detailed!

It wasn't until after watching the World Cosplay Summit event and specifically Team Germany's Vampire Knight skit that I was reminded of how beautiful the story was and how lovely the cosplays were. I ended up rereading the entire series the next day and was extremely moved by it. I connected with Yuki so much more now than I did years back, and that meant so much to me.

Personally, I think this is a hard cosplay to make a skit from depending on what the skit is, especially for WCS. However, the idea they had was amazing and was enough to inspire me to revisit my VK artbook. One of the cosplays featured was Yuki's detailed dress when she's a vampire, complete with roses and beads. It has such a rich Gothic feel to it! While I really loved their final version of this dress, I also felt that I had some of my own personal twists and ideas on how to create certain parts of it.

Because the illustration doesn't contain a bottom look for the skirt, Team Germany's CherrySky Cosplay designed it containing a beautiful slit with several rose elements along the bottom for embellishments. I decided that I wanted to have my own spin on it with a romantic style. Given that I really feel that I have yet to tackle a very intricate cosplay, I decided to make this my project and to test my patience on it.

So far, I've ordered the wig along with the school uniform I commissioned from the same place I got my Homura cosplay. I wanted the school uniform to wear one days when I don't want to wear the whole outfit because I still love Yuki as a vampire. Hopefully those will arrive by early October!

And finally, I got the chance to visit the fabric district to find my first batch of supplies to tackle this cosplay!

Ahhh~ the fabric goodness!

I originally had the headband from a sale at Joanns when I obsessively bought a number of headbands to keep around the house for whatever reason. I thankfully had a wide one I could use as a bade for the headband, and not featured in this picture is actually a rose I later that night bought at Joanns for the main headpiece. I also purchased a number of strands of gray beads.

Basically, I purchased a nice black and charcoal fabric, which I have yet to sit down and properly identify. I think it is a polyblend, although I'm not 100% sure. I also bought some lovely gray chiffon for the details. I have yet to buy the pleated white trim, since the store I knew that had them was closed for the day. I bought some lace pieces and a front lace piece that's a mild off white to gray color, which I will likely turn gray. Then, I purchased a strand of white beads initially thinking I'd use white ones till I found the gray ones. Then instead of a Fleur de Lys, the girl at the Michael Levine's suggested a silver cross, which I really liked! I think it pays homage to Yuki "Cross". It's awesome also that the girl was a Vampire Knight fan too!

Finally, the ROSES. X_X Sweet Moholy Nagy. The roses are actually a bit way more expensive than I wanted to go. They run about four dollars individually and I'm looking for a pretty decent sized order of them. They cost way more than the fabrics themselves, possibly times some more. I've seen this dress done with the roses as embroidered patches, and I interpreted them that way, but I felt that to have more tangible, three-dimensional roses felt more up my alley. I didn't want blatant gray roses on there, so when I went into the Michael Levine's, my mother pointed out these beautiful fabric roses with little bits of lace inside them. They looked so perfect! To counter the heavy price of the roses, I also bought a little stem of velvet flowers as well.

I ended up cutting up the stems and replacing them with the small gray peals I had purchased. I also did the same with the main rose for the headband as well!

And my early progress so far has been mostly figuring out the patterns and working through to develop strategies for each step of the way. While I have a tentative dream to finish this by November, it really depends on how quickly I work while not compensating the details.

Currently, my main focus has been practicing some better techniques for the puffs on her sleeve and headband. I followed a small tutorial I have and cut up a stand of chiffon, sewed it and I machine basted the puffs first. Then I went back and individually sewed them by hand, which made a huge difference. I played with the length of puffs and distance, and so far it was reat to test my patience and to develop a rhythm. I usually dislike handsewing, but this was absolutely fun!

So, off to a great start! I have some time off from work to be able to get more done!

New Domain Soon!

I wanted to quickly make a separate update to announce that I have purchased a new domain soon for my site! It's likely that the new site will not be available till late December/January, which is the time when I will be having the proper time to work on my graphics and get a lot of things ready to make it post-friendly and to compile a lot of my cosplays and whatnot.

I don't want to attach a new link already, mostly because the current domain is being used for classroom purposes for a project that will also go well into December or so. However, if you know the name of this blog, you're all good!

I've only previously had one solo graphics site before when I was given some hosting by a wonderful online designer name Rain. I was referred to her by a good friend named Sana, who made some really great graphics back in my high school days. When I was really into making graphics online, I participated as staff for a number of sites and after meeting Sana, she heped me get some hosting from a very reccommended host, Serene Illusions. The site was called, "Excalibur Overture Designs". I think I have a really derpy screenshot of the old site, or at least the layout. I painfully admit that I wish I had used more the site, but I was so slow to constructing it.

Unfortunately the only picture I can find doesn't have the host information, so this is just a very old screenshot (haha Windows XP) I took when I was originally making the layout. I do remember having some other screenshots of the actual site, although like I said, it was short-lived and derpily not that different. The site was mainly a graphics resource, although it's kind of hard to find those kinds of sites. Every once in a while I get hit with a creative moment and look around to staff temporarily somewhere, although it's rare to find a graphics resource site that is strictly anime oriented.

I'm so embarrassed now to share this because I'd like to believe that I've massively improved from this. Even with more experience however, I think I probably might still be infuriating over 9000 Bauhaus enthusiasts with my graphic style.

Some of my more recent work has been dedicated to other projects and personal use, with the exception of a few client-based projects. I was honored to have been able to help create logos and flyers for a Help for Japan relief fundraiser in Torrance, hosted by a good friend, and then some other design logos and business-related projects. Other non-business work is dedicated to desktop wallpapers, friends' graphics, and my website header (which was based on a little class project turned header idea).

So back on topic! Because I really like my simpler layout so far, its very likely I'll be rolling this layout (or a basic idea of it) towards my new site. I probably will be toying a bit more with some ideas and new experiments, but my focus is to have a cleaner website I can showcase some of my cosplay endeavours, have a bit of blogging/commentary moments, and personalize my work a bit more.

So here's to a start of a new project!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cosplay Plans for 2013-2014

Hello, and I apolgize for my lack of updating! This has been a mighty slow summer since Anime Expo, and unfortunately I was not able to attend Japan Expo at the last minute! It was very sad to hear, especially when I had several plans already made for it based on someof the awesome guests they had announced. However, life is life, and there's been some good news (I have a better job now!) and I'm in a better place to be able to keep cosplaying and focusing on the next conventions. Already, there are so many wonderful plans in my head!

I did manage to go to a small event at Little Tokyo last night, which was nice and a good opportunity for a quick and casual cosplay. I has planned on going a week before after finding out my sad news, but then I decided against going by making other plans. Those fell through as well, so I ended up quickly arranging to go with a few friends. Unable to pick something (or missing a vital piece of cosplays I did have in mind), I quickly got my EVA Asuka jacket, restyled my new asuka wig and I feel pretty happy with the results! Instead of a plug suit however because of my lack of time and how stuffy it's been around here, I wore a pair of red tights to keep the plug suit effect.

I also recently got some photographs back of my Cecilia photoshoot with my other Infinite Stratos friends! I might post some soon!

So through all of this, I managed to try to create some kind of decent schedule featuring all of my cosplay plans, and realistically, it's always bound to change. I did want an idea at least, and I'm not rushing a few at all. I'm also incorporating my new possibility that I might be attending Japan Expo in Paris next year in replacement of so many news and changes, so if that's the case, then definitely the schedule will be changing a lot!

For conventions, I might be doing just one day or skipping out on some of the smaller ones to focus on the bigger ones. I also have some local opportunities to wear stuff earlier anyway. I didn't add Fanime, yet there is a possibility that I might be attending it.

So here's the schedule! (Items in red are planned new items, and comments for them will be under the schedule)

-          Yuki Kuran (uniform) – Vampire Knight
-          Yuki Kuran (Vampire Dress) – Vampire Knight
-          Sohma Kagura (kimono/uniform) – Fruits Basket
-          Kinomoto  Sakura (Mage Version) – Cardcaptor Sakura
-          (Masquerade)
-          Yuki Kuran (Vampire Dress) – Vampire Knight
-          Nepgear – Hyperdimension Neptunia
-          Nanami Haruka – Uta no Prince-sama (Maybe)
-         (Masquerade)
-          Eternal Sailormoon – Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon
-          Belldandy   Ah! My Goddess
-          Yuki Kuran  – Vampire Knight 
Other Side Projects/Smaller Cosplays:
-          Maid Nia Teppelin – Guren Lagann
-          Nonosaka Mao – Mirai Nikki 
-      Morgiana - Magi
-          Takatsuki Shiori – Shoujo Kakumei Utena
-          Kaitou Jeanne – Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne  
-          Makinami Mari Illustrious/Asuka Langley Plug Suit- Rebuild of Evangelion 3.0
Reusing/Fixing for 2013/2014:
-          Tsukino Usagi – Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon – Remaking the Usagi wig and minor editing.
-          Belldandy – Ah! My Goddess  Remaking a lot of the jewelry including a new chain belt, earrings, collar, and bangles; styling the wig properly and perhaps making a head scarf; trimming and fixing the wings.
-          Shirakiin Ririchiyo – Inu x Boku SS - Requires tailoring and remaking the tights and scythe.
-          Homura Akemi (Moemura) - Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica – Replacing the old stockings to make it more accurate, and buying new red frames. 
-     Juliet Capulet - Romeo x Juliet - I'm considering to start repairing this costume bit by bit, because I do remember there being some potential to salvage it. The same will likely apply to my Yuuko cosplay, although that cosplay may just be available for photoshoots. 
-     Hitorimeno Miori - Alice Parade - Ahh! All the buttons fell out of nowhere during AX as I rushed to the Ito Noizi panel! I will be repairing those soon. 

And I really think that I will be reworking a lot on Amelia, though it's likely when my other cosplay friends decide to remake some of their pieces too with me.

Like I said, there are some events I omitted and it's likely that I will either be wearing a side project, a reused costume, or something new that I might have already completed for another convention. I'm really open to editing and adjusting these. Sakura was meant to be for Japan Expo, although I didn't get anything prepared for her but her wig and the Clow Cards (which I absolutely love!). I wound up finishing Vampire Knight recently, and I went back and looked at my artbook and fell in love with Yuki's black and grey rose gown. I remembered then that it was one of the designs that Team Germany used for their WCS skit! I have my own interpretation of the bottom of the dress however, so I will be taking on that.

For Japan Expo/Anime Expo, it's very likely that my cosplay friends and I want to focus on a more magical girl theme. I have a vision for an Utena skit I want to complete, although like I said, we're open to editing. We are going for a more fantasy theme, so here's seeing what we do with that! Anime Los Angeles will be for sure exciting; we have a massive and wonderful group already onboard with dozens of ideas, and there's been a skit that Shii, Frye, and I have been planning for some time. ALA has been a source of nostalgia and luck for us, so here's to our hard attempts!

For now, I'll let my time/peacefulness/and whatnot do the talking. Tomorrow I'm going to likely be buying some base items for my Yuki gown, and will hopefully use that to kickstart some more progress work!