Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Journey to Senbonzakura no Kenshin

Today is a happy day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Progess while watching Frida.

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

Flowers, flowers, flowers!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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