Friday, August 19, 2016

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

Two Posts in One Month!?

I must be going soft.

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

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

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

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

I've mentioned over 9000 times how much I love Utena. I've written more than enough essays to annoy the living daylights out of my teachers, and I will find some way to integrate it into my daily life. Yet sometimes, I don't really need to do all that work considering how great of an anime it is and there are very little people in my life who don't appreciate its milestone in art, story, design, and literally everything.

But besides my analytical obsessions with Utena, cosplaying her is more like a process of becoming Utena, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's like in the creepier sense. It's more of enjoying the process of artistically creating something that's been so near and dear to my heart, next to pretty much all the great shoujos. Yet Utena's the number one. Always will be.

I originally planned on making Alice Liddell from Alice in the Country of Hearts for Anime California, since I wanted to make something that was on my backlog of dream cosplays, and I have recently begun to replay the Anniversary game, and I purchased a quantity of manga to get through the dreary summer. Needless to say, it made the summer not so dreary and filled with ikemen, and Alice's character is such a breath of fresh air.

My best friend Lyric and I talked about doing a skit for Anime California. It's our first time going but our friends seemed to enjoy it the past years. It doesn't look intense or intimidating, but really inviting and more of a fun summer con to enjoy the beachy area and for us, have a con allows us to kick back. It's been a pretty busy con season for us with masquerades, so we thought it'd be a good option to try out.

We chose Alice and Vivaldi as our original ideas, but the skit we want to do would actually benefit for some of our other fellow Goonies to join in, which works out considering that they wanted to do the series too, so we set it for a later date. That left us with an open idea of what we wanted to do for AC still, so Lyric and I pooled through our notes and thought about cosplays we've been wanting to do.

Utena wasn't really on the list originally since we had done our Adolescence Mokushiroku skit in January for ALA. While we really loved the project and our skit idea, there admittedly were a few things that didn't go as we had wanted to for it. We had a set malfunction, so the Akio we'd been working on never showed, and little elements here and there with the timing almost got to the better of us. Overall though, we left it as it was since we loved the experience, we worked really hard on our set pieces, and we shared the story we wanted to share.

Lyric and I were about to call it a night after a long brainstorm of ideas, because this is our first duo skit and since we've always talked about what amazing things we'd do as a duo, we didn't want to disappoint ourselves. We were super close to throwing in the towel when I thought back to the basics: What did we truly love? What did we both share in common in terms of taste?

Both of us have a flair for dramatic skits, and we both really love Utena. I asked him if he would be interested in picking Utena and Anthy, since he's mentioned wanting to make her red gown from the anime series. But as we got to unraveling our idea, he selected another favorite character of his, Prince Dios. We lucked out that the audio we had already prepared for our first Alice skit was a perfect choice, and we have several supplies left over from our previous skit, including the frames for the set, the swords, and some of the brooch pieces.

Rehearsals so far have been going extremely well. We're certainly excited that we're signed up and that we have a great skit that's simple and not too hectic, but still reflects a lot of our values in why we love Utena and why we really love to cosplay. That's always the most important part!

So now behold...the two to three week progress of...FABRICS AND GOODIES.

Do not be alarmed of the pink fabric. That's for the set, I promise. 

As I mentioned before, we lucked out to have a lot of important materials, like the swords, already made. Lyric is borrowing Shii's sword, which is a similar design as my Sword of Dios but has some slight color differences since it was meant for Touga. 
We have one set piece we're working on, and it's relatively simple. We bought that pink floral fabric for a great price and the added bonus of us splitting up the remainder after the con to use it for other projects. 

 I purchased from my favorite shop a bottom weight twill with minimal stretch. It has an amazing weight and it's jet black. I originally was looking for that midnight blue-charcoal color from the manga but they only had it in a much lighter rayon. Even then, the black is so perfect and iconic. I also purchased a light charmeuse for the lining. I purchased some buttons from Joanns since my favorite button shop had run out of my favorite gold ones, but they did have some perfect red ones for the sleeves.

It might seem a little weird that I got some blue chiffon in there, but I'll be experimenting with it a little to see what I can do for how I want the skirt to particularly look like. Besides that, I bought a very lightweight chiffon and a georgette in white so that I could layer it. The anime version has distinct pleats, like a knife pleated skirt, but I've always interpreted the anime as much fancier and more voluminous and flowy. It's her little princess accent. So, I'll be using more a skirt pattern, and I also purchased some tulle just in case if it needs the little kick.

I purchased a stretch knit in red to make my shorts. I lucked out to have a serger, so here's hoping that all goes well. I'm not a big shorts-making-person, but I definitely love the style and shape of them. The fabric has a great hand and matches the color of my accents perfectly. 

I purchased the socks at the district at a lingerie shop. They are the perfect color and length, and we less the five dollars! 

Not featured, but I have another base set of shoes from my previous Utena cosplay to work with. I'll once again be blocking out the designs, applying primer, and then painting over the parts, this time in black and add some red laces to them.
For the cuffs, I purchased a white twill cotton, the same kind as the black. I actually bought extra for an upcoming cosplay for the winter time. Once again, it also has an amazing hand and looks absolutely how I want it to. Shii bought a bias tape maker, so I also purchased some red fabrics, including a taffeta and a rayon for the pockets as well. 

I'm reusing the main chabocon brooch piece I made for my Utena, but I am adding golden cording and possibly a new backing for them. I'm hopefully going to see if they have some other pieces at a local shop here to see if I can replace one of the parts that was made with EVA foam (you know who you are). The rose is purchased, and has scalloped petals made of organza. I'll be adding some more detailing into the rose, and am going to be adding some ribbon for reasons.

I have a ring that I have had my eye on for a while now, but it's unfortunate that it may not ship in time. Therefore, I'll have to go with making mine for the meantime. The manga version of the rose signet ring is actually more three-dimensional than the anime version, so I looked into modifying a chabocon to make that extruding design to it. I'm purchasing a signet rose ring base and I purchased a clear chabocon to paint our design over.

I purchased 2 acrylic semi-circle pieces from a local plastic's shop, where I also bought my little chabocon pieces. I also purchased some 1/2" clear plastic tubing, which is flattened down and works perfectly for the rims on the epaulet. For the tassels, I really am a fan of the thick, filled individual tassels, so I also purchased that white twill and with my leftover filling from my Sailormoon cosplay, will make my tassels. 

Obviously not featured, but I purchased a wig online on Ebay and hoping to see if I will luck out. I do have some backup wigs, but I couldn't help but love the color on the sample picture. 

I am going to be looking around for a possible way to make my duelist pin for the rose, but besides that, I purchased some strings of pearls for my flair ideas, and I also got a gold trim for my epaulets just to be safe. I purchased some clear thread and an iridescent white for some of the detailing on my skirt. 

Overall, I'm super happy with my materials. I can't honestly say that I stuck to a budget or not, but I'll roughly admit that the items you think that weren't expensive were the worst offenders, versus the obvious ones were much less costly. A heirarchy of derp, if you will: 

1.Wig - $15 
(because Ebay sometimes delivers and it's absolutely hilarious and great when it does)

2. Epaulets - $33
(for the pair and tubing) 

3. Shoes - $5
(and I technically still have the primer and paint, and even then these were an extra pair I had)

4. Black Twill Cotton - Between $25-35 for 5 yards

5. White Twill Cotton - Same as black, although I bought for 2 projects, so it's more like $15

6. Red Stretch Fabric - About $20

7. Red Taffeta - $15

8. Red Rayon - $15 

8. Socks - $5

9. Ring Base + Chabocon - $16

10. Skirt Chiffons - $32

11. Buttons - $7 

----- So roughly: $203 or $200 estimated to make this costume, give or take. To be honest, it might be a bit high (or low for some), but it's what I was saving to make sure that this costume came out the way I wanted it to. With the accents, it is more like $230 or so.

It does give a good idea however of how a cosplay does cost money as it costs time, and why time is important to have so you can work with these fabrics and spare yourself from losing money and time without a mock up! And play with materials:

Loving my epaulet bases.
I should have progress over the weekend! So let's hope that I can take a moment and make those updates.

Before I turn in for the evening, I got these bad boys today too:

Casper meets Haunter.
I saw these fabrics weeks ago and made a point to purchase the following time. I figured that one would be for an outfit that I can have to wear around and plus it's Pokemon, so of course it'll be fun (except that derp from last night since I clearly thought Satoshi had his chance at stardom. Oh well, a girl can only dream)

And then my Casper find is my favorite. <3 I'm admittedly not a die-hard fan, but I thought it was absolutely adorable and with Halloween coming soon, I realized that I spend so much time trying to figure out a costume but then result in either a half-baked idea or reusing a cosplay. I figured that this year I could just be fun and join in on the festivities, or really just have a cute dress for the fall season. I got some more lavender chiffon to add to it, and I'll probably see if I can make it after the convention with my Pokemon one. It's kind of a cool find considering that I found it in an upolstery shop between two of the dullest curtain patterns ever.

Diamonds in the rough! <3 Happy sewing, and here's to more fun progress!

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