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. 

~~~~ ANIME LOS ANGELES 2016 ~~~

ALA was a fun con, but it was kind of a hectic experience in its own way. It had some fun highlights though! We performed our Utena skit that we've been working on for quite some time, and I'm pretty happy with how Utena came out! It's been a dream cosplay since over 9000 years ago, and I've sort of avoided making plans for her because of this scary, intimidating and creeping feeling that I would never do my hero justice.

While I'm not nine feet tall and have legs for days, I actually had a super fun time working on Utena! I only got to wear her for masquerade for the night, so I have plans to wear her at Fanime like a Day 1 cosplay and enjoy how it feels pretty complete. Wearing it to the con that's settled between rain and wind wore out some parts of it, particularly the shoes, but they are quick fixes. The epaulets are my favorite part, also because I had been super scared about making them for a long time! I also think that they'd work for when I decide to make classic black tunic Utena.

I'll likely have a separate post for Utena's creation process, since I took quite a few pictures! I also finished Nami's Wake Up! design from One Piece, I sort of breezed through the rest of Miyuki, and I worked on two Luffys for my brother and my friend Sean, who was attending his first convention with us!

Cosplay wise, I think that I was pretty lucky to have the time to get through all the cosplays while managing school and work! I'm pretty proud of how complete Utena is, and actually how Nami turned out to be.

NAMI - One Piece: New World (Wake Up! Version)

I'm not typically comfortable with a lot of One Piece designs, but I really liked the final silhouette for the cosplay and I see myself wearing it in the future! Next year's ALA theme is pirates, so why not?

Nami took a few nights to work at. The dress was pretty straight forward, and I ended up adding some horsehair braid to it to give it some movement. It's also lined and pretty silky, so it was one of my more comfortable cosplays. The jacket design was pretty fun and self-explanatory to make, except that design wise, I had a hard time matching the sleeve to the shawl collar so that it could cover my shoulders. When I couldn't do that, my friend Lyric let me snag a few pieces of chiffon and I added some gathered trim instead, which turned out really nicely!

I have absolutely no skills when it comes to millinery, so I made the hat out of a base pirate hat I bought at the fabric district and I made spearate pattern pieces to conceal the top and the brim. I added an extra trim and that awesome boa, and it was pretty fun to wear! I think 2016 will be the year I step up my headgear game!

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this outfit. I liked wearing it for the day and with my friends. Since it was Sean's first time going to the con, Amanda and I wanted to join along for another stab at One Piece. I think what really gets me about this cosplay is the color scheme! It's happy, vibrant, and I see myself wearing this one during the summertime.

 LUFFY - One Piece: New World (Commission for my brother) 

My brother is a hugeeee One Piece fan, and I blame him for the over 9000 One Piece ideas and cosplays we have in our group list. He was initially going to be Brook for ALA, but his work only gave him one day off, so I offered for him to pick any other One Piece cosplay he wanted for me to make. He ended up picking his favorite Luffy design. It worked out since I already had the pattern for Sean's drafted out and ready to cut, so I marked some adjustments and onward to sewing!

The key to this cosplay is cutting the pieces out on the bias, because it gives it that distinctive drape to the sides and back of the cosplay. I then added some flounces to the sleeves, and I finished each seam to ensure that it wasn't itchy. Both his and Sean's are made of a nice, textured linen. His color scheme is darker, more like burgundy? It's really flattering. The sash was also a darker color, but the texture makes it feel like a realistic interpretation of Luffy.

I ran out of buttons to sew onto his, so I'll be adding them before Fanime! He had a pretty fun time cosplaying Luffy for the day with us too. For the shorts, he borrowed Shii's Luffy shorts for when she had made his other design, and the color scheme worked out for him there!

LUFFY - One Piece: New World (Comission for Sean) 

I always want to make someone's first con special! Sean's a really awesome friend and he had never cosplayed before but really wanted to, so he picked to be Luffy as his first cosplay!

He provided the shorts, so I sewed some fur onto them for that exaggerated torn look. For Christmas, I got both him and my brother matching straw hats from Universal Osaka, and they came with the cool stitches and everything!

I drafted the pattern using a modified shawl one I previously had, and then reworked some of the elements to give it the right fit along the shoulders and sleeves, and experimented with the bias drape. I used a textured red linen and added the flounces to the sleeves. Then I handsewed the gold buttons and double checked both his and my brother's jackets to make sure the fit was right. I also made the yellow sash, which was out of a bright yellow woven fabric.

To finish off the whole look, I made his chest scar using some of my own makeup supplies, and it worked really nicely! He got a lot of compliments on his costume and scars.

I used:
- Smashbox Primer Water - to prime the area in his chest, and it seriously makes a difference.
- MAC Cosmetics Foundation - which is a full coverage and super nice. I used a beige tone for it.
- Smashbox Contouring Kit - A little contouring kit I have, and it was super handy with adding some of the dimensional tones to the edges of his scar
- Too Faced Chocolate Bar - shades of brown to add more tone and a little color. There's a slight burgundy color I used for the edges to give them the raised effect.
- Coastal Scents obligatory palette - with some glints of red and brown to add to it.
- Revlon Photo Finishing Powder - to just dust and seal everything together to give it a nice finish
- Loreal Finishing Spray - And put some of that all in hopes that it would keep the scar from smearing.

And for his upper cheek scar, I used my Heroine brand liquid eyeliner.

I think I have a blurry photo of his scar...^^; But it was pretty fun to do since I've been trying to follow some more special FX makeup. Nothing too crazy, but fun for cosplay!

SHIBA MIYUKI -  Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei 

I had been wanting to make a separate post (and probably still will!) on the making of Miyuki's jacket, which I'm super proud of. I worked on it actually throughout Thanksgiving because I was in limbo for a period of time about wanting to sew, but at the same time I was still pretty intimidated about making Utena.

So I worked on the jacket and finally pulled out my patches, which I had purchased last year's Black Friday on Etsy (got to find the shop because they are pretty awesome!) and I had the fabric for a couple years now, actually. I think the derpiest but honest excuse is that with a lot of cosplays, especially dream character ones, I get anxious and avoidant about working on them because then there's a point of no return, and it's frightening if the cosplay's not coming out the way you want them too. I get that a lot with costumes like Utena or Sailormoon, and also because I've spent a lot of years daydreaming about that moment, I sort of feel like it's the surest time for me to choke on making the cosplay look right.

A lot of people know I'm a devout lover of Miyuki. I've loved the light novels for years and given the fact that at the time I had been working on a project where the main character's name was Miyuki, I felt like I connected with her on so many levels. Her love for her Oniisama is just too, too precious.

So finally I worked on the cosplay during the Thankgiving Weekend, which mostly comprised of watching dozens of movies (literally) and sewing the different seams and nuances to her design. There was a time when I was tempted to actually buy her cosplay, but I'm surprised how it turned out! I really like it!

After the holiday weekend, I started working on ALA things, and only considered Miyuki as something to wear for Day 0 or another convention event. Since I was mostly working on Nami, Luffy, and Utena, I ended up wondering if there was a chance to finish Miyuki on the side and actually wear her for the third day of the convention since I didn't have time for any other plans, and I also really wanted to wear her since her jacket was pretty stellar.

I ended up drafting her dress pretty quickly and sewing it in less than an hour. I think it needs some finishings here and there though, since I'm not too happy that there may need to be an extra seam in there. I completed the collar and added the bias tape. I actually didn't make the tie, which is also why I didn't get to wear her after all, but it likely will be done within the next couple of weeks alongside her repairs.

The overlay was made with this sparkly snowflake fabric that I had purchased some time back, and added an extra layer along both sides to face it. I needed to steam it, so I'll also be planning on tat too so that it's not too bubbly.

Overall, I think I'll have more reaction to it once it's actually all complete. It's one of those costumes that I know I can get done and want to have in part of my collection and no longer in my fabric bin, but at the same time, I felt like I had to push myself a little to embrace the reality that I really, really, really love Miyuki.

I do admit that I purchased some Mahouka goodies at the convention. I had to, because the Oniisama feels are too strong for me to resist. Maybe I can wearher to another convention!

TENJOU UTENA: Shoujo Kakumei Utena: Adolescence Mokushiroku

This cosplay needs a whole post of its own, so the rundown of this process was that I'm super happy that I worked hard on it, and I spent a lot more hours that I thought I would to complete it. I worked on trying out new aspects of cosplay with it as well, especially when it comes to making little props and shoes.

I painted the shoes, actually made functional shorts (I usually don't cosplay characters with pants or shorts, so this was a huge thing for me lol), her brooch, and even cut my own wig 's bangs to get that signature style. Her hair is different from the anime and the film, and initially I purchased a whole new wig for this cosplay to capture that fluffy hair style. However, while I love the new wig, it's got more of a watermelon color to it than the bubblegum pink I wanted, and it clashed with the outfit and admittedly, with my skin tone. I think it's absolutely perfect for a Tsukimiya Ringo cosplay, but I wasn't feeling Utena, or at least this design.

The jacket definitely took longer than I thought it would. The design is pretty simple, but I spent more time on it by sewing the lining, cuffs, buttons, and then making sure that it matched up in those gusset areas. I had to go back a few times, measure again, and adjust. I also hadn't had much experience making pockets before, and I spent a few nights sort of frustrated (and watching Owari) to combat through it. I was happy with the results!

Overall, I think that while my expectations of becoming a precocious six foot tall fourteen-year-old won't ever be fully realized, I am super happy that I enjoyed the process of making and wearing Utena.

Skit-wise, we had a great concept and we ended up winning our first win in the Master's Division for Best Dramatic Skit. I'm happy with the results, despite that we had a technical malfunction with one of our sets and Akio never showed up lol. I'm really looking forward to Fanime for bew opportunities to embrace the rose oujisama dreams I will never stop having.

Everything Else: ALA was pretty fun, and we lived off pizza rolls and gummy bears. I was surprisingly more prepared than other times in terms of cosplay, so that was a huge relief. The friends in the room were both so amazing and wonderful to have helped us out with our skit and as always, there's nothing better than a convention experience with your friends.

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