Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Anime LA 2016 - Nami


It's been some time since I've made a proper post, but admittedly I've been writing them but losing my track of time before I get the chance to submit them. I've been working on trying to be active on social media, and I'm honestly stunned and in awe of the people who can manage to balance both out. I can barely reply to an email on my phone.

Since I'm knee-deep in for AX, I haven't had much of a time to discuss any of my ALA or Fanime cosplay progress, so I thought it would be a great way to retrospect on some new sewing techniques and share in general what I've been working on. Let's start with the easiest.

I freely admit that I have a love-hate relationship with One Piece. It was one of my middle school go-to anime when I was just getting into the scene and my guy friends had their subscriptions to Shounen Sunday. My best friend at the time also was a die-hard Sanji fan. Come to think of it, several of my friends throughout middle school and high school dvoted their lives to him. I wonder if any of them are Shokugeki no Souma fans now. But my "hate" portion comes with the fact that I'm not a huge fan of several of the costume choices in the series. I love so many characters and it's admirable to see how long the series has gone successfully, but some of those outfits are tough to stomach. As a true artist though, I'm sure Oda is just following his gut on what he likes, so I still give him mad respect for that.

So when ALA comes around every year, my friends and I get very nostalgic to do something old school, as if that 85% of our cosplays doesn't consist of titles prior to 2005. One Piece is one of my brother and best friend's favorite series, and generally, it is a fun cosplay group idea that anyone can jump on without much issue. At ALA 2013, I made Nico Robin and Shanks for me and my brother for our group masquerade skit.

This year, we had a new cosplay friend joining us and gave him the choice to pick a cosplay he wanted to do and we could all likely join in without sacrificing much time away from our masquerade cosplays. Naturally, he chose One Piece, and he commissioned me to make him a New World Luffy cosplay, which my brother also asked for as well. Despite detesting several designs, I had one version of Nami I actually liked, and could possibly double up as a rodeo outfit for those country music festivals we have in my city going on during the summer.

So a quick blurb about Luffy 1 and Luffy 2: One Luffy was made of kona cotton, while the second one was made of linen. They chose different colors since my brother had preselected his fabric from my stash, and wanted a more rustic-looking Luffy. My other friend went closer with the color featured on the splash art, so it is brighter. They also chose linen for their sashes, my brother's was a mustard color while other friend's was a dandelion yellow. For the shorts, both of them modified their own denim pants and turned them into cut-off shorts. I only had enough time to sew fur onto one of them, while my brother will be rewearing his for another event so it gives me the chance to add more details.

 For the pattern, I modified a wrap cardigan pattern for women's since the drape on Luffy's jacket is flowy and definitely cut on a bias. I went with my gut on the drape of it, and it managed to work our perfectly for their silhouettes. I then made some flounces and hemmed them before attaching them onto the sleeves, which I thankfully recalled doing in my draping class. They are both unlined but finished on the inside. Overall, both cosplays took roughly about an hour to two hours, if you add me hemming facings, adding buttons, little things, etc. Both of them ordered their hats online, styled their own wigs, and I made the scar on my friend's chest using foundation, primer water, eyebrow pencils, brown eyeshadows, and bronzers.

Back to Nami! 
 I started out with the dress, which I had a pattern for already. It was an empire, baby-doll styled dress which blooms into a skirt past the bustline. I chose a silky taffeta, which frayed like mad but had an absolutely great hand and luster. I made the top, which sections off as princess seams to give it more of a shape, and I modified the front panel to add a sweetheart neckline, although I kept the dip to a minimum. Then I made the straps out of the same material, and ironed as much I could without burning the synthetic and sandwiched them in with the fabric and lining. Then I basted the bodice and started on the skirt, which was a series of circle skirts I also attached and added horsehair braid to give it that wavy shape. I admit that this honestly is what makes the costume, since her dress distinctively has body to it.

I found a jacket pattern I had that contained princess seams and a wide collar, so I could modify that for her design. For the fabric, I selected a white bottom weight I had purchased at the fabric district, since I wanted something that was sturdy and opaque enough. I initially wanted more of a leathery texture, but it was going to be pretty expensive. I worked on the jacket part for a few nights after work while watching Reply 1997, which I know is digressing, but is one of my favorite dramas ever now. I stopped in between at times to watch so that I wouldn't miss a second, so admittedly the costume might have taken less time had I been watching reruns of Matlock or something.

Either way, while I was enjoying the Reply goodness, I first made my jacket base and lined it using a lighter-weight fabric I had stashed away. The jacket is held up by the belt instead of buttons or a zipper, so I made sure everything was crisp and even. Then I made the collar, which the first round didn't pan out the way I had wanted it to and started over again (roughly around episode 9). I was pretty frustrated with it since I realized that I had just enough time to try again with the fabric I had. The second time, it worked! I was able to add the gold bias tape along the collar, as well as on the jacket itself. My favorite part was adding the buttons and the gold trim decorations along the sides of the jacket. I spent quite a bit of time folding them properly and handsewing the buttons onto them, but it did give me a lot of time to watch through episode 5 through 8.

For the collar, I had struggled on how I wanted to make her little swirly designs. Admittedly due to lack of time and a hesitation to sit down and play the embroidery game, I thought of other alternatives, which included looking for a premade patch design of some kind to iron on. When I had gone to the district, I had found exactly what I had been envisioning, but it was about three shades brighter than I would have wanted since the golden trim is very light and metallic. I had also gone to another store, where I had fallen in love with these beautiful premade, beaded designs which people add onto necklines. Despite the price, I purchased it and hoped that I would be able to use them for Nami. At some point while making the jacket, I was growing skeptical that they would be even useful for her design, but once I had finished the collar, I tested it out and ended up really liking the result.

Her jacket looks like half-PTA mom, half-Billy Ray Cyrus fan, and I secretly love it. Despite finishing my jacket before the convention, I was still sort of on the fence about some parts of the silhouette, namely due to the lack of sleeves. I'm personally not a fan of sleeveless cosplays, so Lyric was kind enough to give me some of his extra chiffon he was using for his Anthy cosplay to add a train of ruffles, which I handsewed along the edge of the collar. I was pretty surprised and pleased with the result, since it kept the cowgirl theme but gave me some more coverage along the arms. What was even more magical was the fact that I had eyeballed the length I needed for the ruffles and I somehow managed to have a perfect length for the collar.

The hat was a pretty hilarious experience. I purchased a premade pirate hat that had the exact same silhouette, but it was black. Using a stretchy satin, I estimated some rough shapes for the brim and for the top, and with the help of my mother, pinned them along to sew them into a proper shape and create a sock of the hat. To my surprise, it actually worked. I handsewed some trim along the center and for the tail, purchased a boa that had once been a bright orange but it had faded due to sun damage while being on display otuside. It was however, the perfect shade, so I took it home and attached it to the back of my hat. Overall, considering my lack of millinery skills, I was pretty happy to make a convincing hat in about an hour's time. I might get around to making her bracelets, but beyond that, I borrowed Shii's sister's cowgirl boots since I wasn't keen on the white heels, although maybe there will come a point where I would be willing to admit them into my life. I also borrowed my sister's little rubberband bracelets instead, and I bought a belt at the store a few days before that matched it perfect, and I already had a long, orange wig, so I was pretty much prepared to wear my cosplay for Day 1.

Overall, this costume was a fun experience because while I'm not a huge fan of One Piece cosplays, I had an adventure making mine. It sort of made up for the experience when I made Nico, which I felt was a little bland and underwhelming, and I had primarily picked it because it had been one of the few designs the girls wore with sleeves. I also made this so that I could bring it around for other pirate or summer cosplay events without the hassle of making something new. And I'm surprised at how comfortable everything turned out to be.
  It paid off to make sure to get the fit right on the dress and jacket as well. I wore my cosplay with Shii as Chopper, and my brother and our friend as twin Luffys. It was so much fun to be Nami, and I feel satisfied that I fulfilled my One Piece quota to wear to ALA next year for their pirate themed Sunday.

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