Summer 2015 Sewing Projects

Summer is finally in full swing here, and all that crazy rain Texas was getting is a distant memory. Well, at least it is where I am.

Summer is one of my busier times in terms of cons and cosplay, and the last two months have been no exception. I realized recently that I haven’t sewn any non-cosplay garments for myself this year, and I miss it. While I enjoy sewing costumes and commissions, I also love sewing up geeky dresses and clothes just for fun. And to be honest, I’m a little burned out on cosplay at the moment. Fortunately, I’m coming up on a brief break in cosplay and commission projects, so I’m hoping to make the following non-cosplay things:

1. A craft apron

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I picked up this sewing-themed fabric several months ago, and my first thought was to make a craft apron. They’re so cute! This would be great for running around and working on crafts at home, and very useful when I eventually get around to my goal of selling at fairs and cons.

2. Gabriola Skirt

1401_Sewaholic_Gabriola_skirt_front__65008.1405347492.1280.1280I mentioned at the end of last  year that I really wanted to add a pretty maxi skirt to my collection. While I love things like skater dresses, it’s nice to have a swishy skirt on hand, especially now that we’re in decidedly in non-trouser and non-leggings weather. I’d love to make this in a soft, flowing fabric like a linen blend.

3. Davie Dress

1503_Sewaholic_Davie_Envelope__98130.1425076640.1280.1280Another dress I’ve wanted since I first saw the design! I love a good knit dress pattern for work and fun, and this is a beautiful design! It’s perfect for how I normally dress and still casual enough to hit happy hour after work. I’d love to make 1 or 2 of these in the coming weeks. Maybe one in the black/grey combination used for the sample and another in lighter summer colors. I’m definitely making the sleeveless one!

I’m trying not to take on too many projects, since I want to take my time and really enjoy sewing just for me. Really, these projects are all about getting me back to my sewing roots and doing this crazy hobby just for fun.

What’s on your summer crafting list?

Convention Report: A-Kon 26

Happy Friday! I was hoping to share my costume notes for Margaret today, but I’m still waiting on some photos and it’s been ages since I wrote up a proper convention report.

Velvet Room derp-age.
Velvet Room derp-age.

A-Kon 26 was my best A-Kon yet. This convention will always have a special place in my heart, since it was the first convention I ever attended, and 2015 was my best experience yet! This year marks my 3rd year of cosplay as well.

I got into the con on Thursday with the sole intention of picking up my badge. In previous years, I’ve waited 2-3 hours or more, even with pre-registering. A-Kon is finally listening to people, though, and upgraded to an electronic system. I was able to pick up my badge in about 20 minutes!

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New badges for this year.

I know a lot of people complained about them using paper badges this year, but I’m so willing to go for paper badges if it means waiting a fraction of the time I have in the past. In the future, it’d be great if they separated pre-reg from on-site. It wasn’t a big deal on Thursday, but several of my friends were stuck in line for 2 hours on Saturday because of that set-up.

Since I was able to get through line so quickly, I spent the rest of Thursday doing my normal con shopping in the Artists’ Alley. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my loot (bad blogger), but I did pick up several pieces from thealicechan on Tumblr. Her work is absolutely beautiful!

Photo by ACCosplay.
Photo by ACCosplay.

Friday was all about photoshoots! I booked a shoot with ACCosplay at 10am on Friday morning. Big mistake! We stayed up pretty late on Thursday, so I got a late start and totally forgot my gloves. My hoopskirt also lost the lowest hoop on the walk from the Doubletree to the Anatole. Still, Sherwin was a total trooper and got some absolutely stunning shots of my dress. I highly recommend working with him, especially if you’ve got some pretty gowns!

After my Belle shoot, I wandered over to the Hallway Costume Contest. I’d never participated in one before, so I figured why not? While I didn’t win any awards, I was very pleased with how the contest was organized. I was in and out in 20 minutes, but really got quality time to chat with the judges (I think most of them were from Titanesque Cosplay) about costume construction. This is something I think most cosplay contests lack. I consider myself more of a craftsman than a performer, so I really value any chance I get to focus on that aspect of competitions. I’ll definitely participate again in the future!

Photo from John Welke on FB.
Photo from John Welke on FB.

In the afternoon, I changed into Captain Marvel for a shoot with Kristi Grunden Photography. I really enjoyed working with her! She was excellent at communication and captured some gorgeous images. She’s in the process of editing a few more shots, but here’s a teaser.

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography.

I was also happy to run into several Carol fans at the con, including an awesome guy in a Carol Corps t-shirt! Sadly, I didn’t get a photo on my phone, but if you’re reading this: represent!

Between shots with Aperture Ashley, so don't mind the derpy faces. Zwookiez got this photo!
Between shots with Aperture Ashley, so don’t mind the derpy faces. Zwookiez got this photo!

On Saturday, I joined some friends for a Velvet Room group from the Persona series. Even though this was a down-to-the-wire finish, it turned out quite well! We definitely got more recognition than I expected, and it was a blast to run around with my “siblings” for the better part of the day.

Double Margaret! Photo by Payton Renee Photography.
Double Margaret! Photo by Payton Renee Photography.

I also made it out to the Shin Megami Tensei meet-up in the afternoon. Definitely loads of fun, even though a quilted dress is not ideal for 90+ degree weather. Thank goodness for Kat Von D setting spray, otherwise my face would have been a puddle of foundation goo!

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Selfie time with Callula Cosplay and Showva!

Aside from silly photos, I really enjoyed the opportunity to kick back and chill with friends. Staying at the hotel definitely improved my overall experience at this con, since I could run back and forth to my room at all hours and not worry about leaving things at home. I’m definitely going to try to book a room in the host hotel next year. Or the Doubletree, since they had great service and a very nice complimentary breakfast spread. I had a fantastic time this year, and I’m really excited to get ready for A-fest in September! More photos are available on my Facebook Page.

Have you stayed at the host hotel for a con before? How was your experience?

Life According to Instagram: May 2015 (+ Con Announcement)

FotorCreated1. The lovely Taffeta Darling asked me to help out as a cosplay guest at Keith’s Comics for Free Comic Book Day. It was a really fun experience, and I even got my first sampling of contest judging! I had a great time at Keith’s and would love to visit again next year.

2. I finally put the final touches on all the Gotham costumes this month, including my friend’s Spoiler.

3. The beau and I decided recently to shake up our date nights. We have a habit of staying in, ordering takeout, and watching Netflix for our dates, so this month we decided to hit a local gourmet BBQ restaurant. The ribs were delicious! I forgot to be an obnoxious foodie IG-er, so this was my look for our date.

4. The middle of the month was kind of rough for me between work being INSANE and trying to finish up commissions. My BF was super sweet and surprised me with a whole set of plush direwolf pups!

5. Since graduating, I haven’t read as much for fun as I used to. I recently started bringing books to work to read during my breaks, and my BF and I read a chapter of a book a night together. It’s kind of our own mini-book club. So far I’ve made it through 4 books in the last 2 months. It’s nowhere near as fast as I used to read, but it’s a start!

6. My mom graduated with her Bachelor’s degree! I’m so proud of her. She put off her own education when she had us, but going back to school has been a dream of hers for years. She’s taking the summer and fall semester off and then going back for her Master’s in the spring 2016 semester!

7. Thor is still adorable, just in case you were wondering.

8. I finally got around to cutting materials for clutches! I’m hoping to get these knocked out the week after A-Kon and my storefront set up shortly after that. I’ll let y’all know as soon as they’re up!

9. I wrapped up May with a trip out to Dallas Comic Con Fan Expo! I didn’t stay long on Saturday with my overheating incident, but Friday was pretty fun. I got to visit Ksenia Solo of Lost Girl, wandered around the dealer’s room quite a bit, and chatted with Riddle’s Messy Wardrobe. She was such a sweetheart and even showed me how she made her Elizabeth book so I could replicate it for Margaret.

tumblr_np9p6l0fei1sxq29yo1_500Today kicks off A-Kon for me! Well, I got in on Thursday, but today is when all the good stuff starts. I’m wandering around today as Belle in the morning and Captain Marvel in the afternoon/early evening. On Saturday, I’m wearing Margaret the first part of the day, and when that gets too hot to deal with I’ll switch to Bombshell Wondie. If you guys are there please feel free to say hi!

Are you on Instagram? Let’s be friends!

Costume Notes: Batwoman

Photo by Scott Van.
Photo by Scott Van.

Completed: May 2015

Hours Spent: Approximately 20 hours

Debuted: Dallas Comic Con Fan Expo 2015

Why This Costume: My friends over at Gone Catawampus had the idea for a Gotham Girls group several months ago and asked me to participate. I hemmed and hawed over which character to make for a while since I’m not a big DC fan. Originally, I planned to make Zatanna since I figured she’d be a quick, easy make, but after reading a couple of Batwoman trades at my library, I switched over to Kate Kane. I love her simple, yet powerful design and she’s such a badass lady!

Photo by Scott Van.
The Question is Kat from Puku Cosplay Productions. Photo by Scott Van.

How I made it: This wasn’t a particularly challenging costume, but it did have a couple of unique elements.

The bodysuit is pretty basic, so I focused more on the fabric and tailoring it to fit well. I used my go-to Kwik-Sew 3052 and added princess seams to the front and back of the pattern. I used a gorgeous stretch vinyl. However, there’s not a lot of stretch to the fabric, so I had to size up and really pay attention to tailoring, especially at my bust and hips. I added the Bat logo out of red stretch pleather using my favorite applique tutorial.

tumblr_nmvncbFwPQ1sxq29yo1_500I had zero interest in even trying to make gloves this time around, so I ordered 2 pairs of red pleather gloves off of eBay that were a close enough match to my red pleather. I carefully seam ripped the outside seam of my base gloves and constructed the fins out of the 2nd pair of gloves. The fins are stuffed with craft foam to help them keep their shape.

Photo by Kristin Bomba.
Photo by Kristin Bomba.

My utility belt was pretty fun to build. I made 8 functional pouches large enough to fit my phone and my other con floor necessities. They have belt loops sewn on the back and slide onto thick webbing with a parachute snap in the back (Side question: Would anyone be interested in a short tutorial on how I made the pouches?). I think I’ll add snaps to the belt itself along with the back of the pouches to keep them from sliding around. The buckle was made by Callula Cosplay out of Worbla and painted by me.

The boots are my old Captain Marvel boots! I just cut off the buttons and painted them a few shades lighter to better match my red pleather. The bonus? Now they match my Captain Marvel better!

Best running joke leading up to the con. How many Bat-ladies can fit under my cape? Photo by Kristin Bomba.
Best running joke leading up to the con. How many Bat-ladies can fit under my cape? Answer: 4. Photo by Kristin Bomba.

My cape is definitely my favorite part of this costume. It’s by far the biggest cape I’ve made to date. To start, I used this general sketch from the RPF to help me figure out dimensions. In hindsight, I probably should have gone for smaller scallops, as the points near the top of my cape liked to fold over when I raised my cape up. I opted for a six-panel cape to cut down on the amount of fabric I needed to buy.

Probably my favorite Question/Batwoman photo EVER. Photo by Kristin Bomba.
Probably my favorite Question/Batwoman photo EVER. Photo by Kristin Bomba.

Pro-tip: anytime you have something cut on the bias (like this cape), let your fabric hang for a few days. The charmeuse I used for my cape lining stretched out a ton and was super slippery to sew with. I top-stitched the edges of the cape to keep everything in place. There are also BB pellets in the cape to weight it down a bit, and removable dowel channels on the outside edges for when I decide to act like a badass and intimidate everyone with my cape. Of course, I was a massive derp and left my dowel rods on my kitchen table the day of the con :P

My mask is another creation from the very talented Kevin Dale. It fits beautifully! My wig is a gently used one I bought off of Etsy a while back. It’s okay, but I think I’ll order something from Epic Cosplay or Purple Plum next time I wear this character.

Photo by Kristin Bomba.
The ladies of Gotham! Photo by Kristin Bomba.

Thoughts on this costume: I…. had some issues with this costume. Mainly with my choice of fabric. I mentioned above that the vinyl didn’t stretch well, which definitely affected fit on my body. I was so irked that Yaya Han’s bodysuit pattern came out like 2 weeks after I finished Batwoman. It would have been perfect for this costume, especially those bust cups!

I also had a major issue with overheating. While the vinyl was gorgeous, it did not breathe AT ALL and I left my cold packs at home since I figured the convention center was cool enough to keep that from being an issue. I probably won’t wear this costume again until late fall or winter, but when I do, I’ll likely remake the suit and add mesh paneling on the sides like I did with Callula Cosplay’s Huntress. That will go a long way to help with the heat problem.

BAT-FAM! Photo by Kristin Bomba.
BAT-FAM! Photo by Kristin Bomba.

Overall, this was a fun build! While not my first choice of costume, it was fun to run around with my friends as a group.

Have you made a costume for a group that wasn’t your first choice? What did you think about the experience?

WIP: May 2015 + Con Announcement

Ahhh!!! May is almost over, which means it’s nearly time for my biggest cons of the year: Dallas Fan Expo and A-Kon! Prepping for these cons has kept me very busy this month.

tumblr_notc6g31vW1sxq29yo1_500Batwoman: 100% complete

I’m finished! This wasn’t a particularly time-consuming costume. The cape was definitely the most difficult part. I used almost 12 yards of fabric, and it’s almost 350″ in circumference. I love it! I’ve never made a cape this big before, so it was definitely a learning experience. I’d love to incorporate more cape costumes in my future line-ups. I’ll post a full-write-up on this costume next week!

tumblr_noqbs2ZJlB1sxq29yo1_500Margaret: 95% complete

This was my big project for the month. A few months ago, some of my friends asked if I’d join them for a Velvet Room group at A-Kon. When they asked, I had just finished playing Persona 4 and was trying to figure out which character to cosplay, so I jumped at the chance. As of this writing, I’m done with all the base pieces for the costume and finishing up my props. Hopefully they’ll be done in time! I’ll post a full write-up after A-Kon.

Lulu: 5% complete, gathering materials

Lulu is still slow-going since I’ve been so focused on A-Kon and Fan Expo prep. After some thought, I decided to bump her back to a late fall/early winter convention. I was recently offered a chance to collaborate on a really fun project (I’ll announce details later this summer), but it will cut severely into my solo craft time. I’m ultimately grateful for this decision, since Lulu will be my biggest build to date and I have no desire to rush any part of her. I’m still going to be working on various pieces every month, though! I recently decided to re-do the earrings, so I bought a new set of gems. I also picked up a teddy bear pattern to alter for her moogle. I’m hoping to make a hoop skirt base to attach the belts to next month.

Commissions:  tumblr_nnyi1gozYa1sxq29yo1_500I finished up my friend’s Spoiler commission this month as well. I made her cape from a purple poly poplin. The cape portion is self-drafted (side note: is anyone interested in a general post on cape drafting?), and I modified the hood based on McCall’s 4139. The whole thing is self-lined and top-stitched along the edges. It’s got snaps at the collarbone, in the back on both sides of the zipper to help distribute the weight, and on top of the spandex mask so that the hood doesn’t slide around on her. I also added twill tape to the inside of the lining to help stabilize the neckline.

I’m also working on a few other commissions right now, so there are a lot of mock-ups and pattern drafts littering my craft room, but nothing worth showing right now. Next month!

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And here’s what I’m most excited about: clutches! I’ve been toying with opening an online storefront for months, but never got around to it. After finishing all my costume “to-dos” this month, I started cutting materials for a series of geeky clutches and pillows to put up as an initial test-run. I’m hoping to get everything finished up shortly after A-Kon! I’ll also put up some of my old costumes and wigs.

I’m very excited to debut my new costumes and run around with friends soon. Here’s my line-up for Dallas Fan Expo this weekend:

Friday: Geeky dress Saturday: Batwoman Sunday: Captain Marvel
Friday: Geeky dress, Saturday: Batwoman, Sunday: Captain Marvel

What’s on your craft table?

My Top 13 Con Essentials

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Happy Friday! My summer con season kicks off in short two weeks, so today I thought I’d talk about my top 13 con essentials.

So without further ado, here’s my list of con essentials:

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Even superheroes have to sends texts! Photo by Gone Catawampus.

1. Fully charged cell phone (and your charger!): My phone is basically my lifeline at cons. I use it to take photos of celebs and cool cosplays, contact friends and photographers for meet-ups, and keep up with my social media. At Fan Days, I made the mistake of bringing in a half-charged phone and leaving my charger at my house. I wasn’t able to contact ANYONE throughout the day and wound up coming home to hundreds of messages and notifications. Lesson learned!

Pro-tip: cosplaying with gloves? Sew in a bit of conductive thread into the thumb so that you don’t have to take your gloves off and on all day.

2.  Cash and ID: While vendors now offer credit card or even PayPal sales, some still don’t. Or worse, the wireless signal is stupid weak and you have to wander around trying to get a signal. No, thank you. Got other places to check out! Cash is also useful if you have to pay for parking. Many places will require an ID to pick-up your badge, so don’t leave it at home!

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More often than not, I carry my necessities (powder, lipstick, contact cards, phone, ID, cash, and a few other miscellaneous things) in a matching clutch made from scrap fabric. That way if I forget to take it off in photos, at least it doesn’t look out of place! Photo by Gone Catawampus.

3. A small first-aid kit: I like to prepare for worst-case scenarios, whether that’s a wig-induced headache, blistered heels, or cuts from random pokey props. Antiseptic wipes, band-aids, and ibuprofen are always in my go bag.

4. Touch-up make-up: I normally bring a large amount of make-up that I leave in my big bag, but I always hit the floor with my powder, lipstick, and lash glue if I’m wearing falsies. Hair spray is also handy for wig touch-ups!

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Muscle arm poses are great for superheroes! Ms. Marvel photo by Black Vest Photography.

5. A fantastic pose (or 3): It’s always handy to practice a couple of go-to poses for when you’re stopped for pictures. Having more than one pose ready keeps you from getting bored and only having the same look in all your pictures.

6. A water bottle: Stay hydrated! There’s nothing worse than being in a costume in the middle of the summer and getting sick from dehydration. I normally keep a water bottle on me at all times.

7. Snackage: Most cons don’t have the greatest food options, and if they do, wait times are atrocious. Plus, why spend your con money on food when you could spend it on dealer’s room goodies? I like to pack a couple of granola bars, fruit snacks, almonds, and raisins to get me through the day.

8. A con repair kit: No matter how well you prepare, sometimes shit just happens. I like to have a small sewing kit, a stain remover pen, and a small bottle of craft glue on me in case something happens. You may also want to include small bottles of paint in the colors of your costume and/or a hot glue gun. Many cons now have costume repair rooms, which is great if you need to do a bigger repair!

I get my contact cards through Moo! They're really fast and their cards are gorgeous.
I get my contact cards through Moo (referral link)! They’re really fast and their cards are gorgeous.

9. Contact cards: These are great for getting in touch with people after cons! I never remember everyone’s cosplay names, so it’s useful to go back and look people up using their cards. Contact cards are also super useful when you’re working with photographers.

10. Tic-tacs and deodorant: Let’s face it, we all get a little stinky at cons between sweating and all the crowding. Take a shower before you hit the floor and make sure you stay fresh throughout the day!

11. Make-up/baby wipes/hand sanitizer: Hygiene! No one wants to catch con crud, so make sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer if necessary. I also like to have make-up wipes on hand so that at the end of the day, I can wipe all my makeup off on the ride home.

I knew I wouldn't be able to make it more than about 10-12 hours in Belle, so I picked up this cute Beauty and the Beast skater dress from Hot Topic along with some other Disney merch!
I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it more than about 10-12 hours in Belle, so I picked up this cute Beauty and the Beast skater dress from Hot Topic along with some other Disney merch!

12. A change of clothes: Very useful for uncomfortable costumes! Or if you plan to go out to eat afterwards and want to protect your costume. At the very least, bring a hoodie so you don’t spill anything on your costume!

13. A great attitude: Smile! Have fun being a big ol’ geek with the rest of your geeky buddies for the weekend.

What are some of your con essentials?

10 Ways to Save Money on Cosplay

Budgeting for cosplay is something that’s come up a lot in my feeds recently. Con season is quickly creeping up on us, and I’m seeing a lot of new people express anxiety over the potential cost of getting into this hobby. Believe me, I get it. Cosplay can get expensive, especially when you do big, detailed builds. But it doesn’t have to be! This hobby is what you make of it. Even when you do go for those huge builds, there are ways to keep your bank account from crying (too much). Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your costs down:

2015 collage
My original line-up for this year. As you can see, I’ve swapped out a bit. Belle and Batwoman replaced Vanessa and Zatanna, but both are relatively equal in terms of cost. It’s also okay to decide that you don’t want to do costumes! I opted to drop NoFlutter Jupiter since Lulu is going to be such a big project.

1. Plan in advance: At the beginning of the year, I create a list of the costumes I want to create. It’s always subject to change, but for the most part, I stick with my list, since deviation from the list normally means extra $$$. Doing this helps me plan out when I need to buy materials and how much work I’ll need to do on my costumes. That second part is just as important as money to me, since I plan my more intense costumes around non-hectic work time (*cough* Lulu *cough*). You can also plan around sales to get things cheaper. We’ll touch more on that in just a moment.

2. Create an itemized budget: In the process of planning out all my costumes at the beginning of the year, I also create an itemized budget. I started doing this when I began offering commissions, but it’s also really helpful for keeping me on track with my own stuff.

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Just as an example, here’s a look at the budget for my current project, Margaret. My first step in creating an itemized budget is to gather up all the reference images I can and make detailed notes on what all is involved. Most of my research is done at this phase. I typically look up other cosplayers’ builds to get an idea of what patterns and materials to use and look up tutorials for new techniques. I also do some preliminary online shopping to get my prices as accurate as possible. In addition, I take stock of what I have on hand and see what can be used to help cut down on costs.

When it comes to pricing, I always go for retail price to prepare for a worst case scenario. Sometimes big sales don’t always lineup with my payday, so getting a discount is a pleasant surprise rather than something I absolutely have to rely on.

Once I set my budget, I figure out how much I need to set aside each month to make my costume happen and time out sales shopping. With Margaret, for example, I waited for one of Arda’s sales since the lacefront wig is one of the most expensive pieces. Which leads me to…

Some of my goodies from last year's Black Friday sales. I bought most of my materials for Captain Marvel through sales!
Some of my goodies from last year’s Black Friday sales. I bought most of my materials for Captain Marvel through sales!

3. Work those sales!: This is one of the biggest reasons I plan most of my costumes a year or more in advance. Black Friday sales are one of the best times to pick up costume pieces, including wigs, contact lenses, spandex, and more. I often use Black Friday/Cyber Monday to buy big materials for costume pieces for the first half of the next year.

E-mail and mobile newsletters are really useful tools plan out your sales shopping. I always keep an eye out for weekly advertisements for Jo-Ann’s and Hancocks, since they’ll list when patterns go on sale.

Liking your go-to shops on Facebook and other social media platforms is also a good way to keep in the loop on upcoming sales, especially for places like Arda, Epic Cosplay, Golden D’Or, and Spandex World.

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Another instance where coupons saved my butt. The quilted blue fabric is for Margaret. If you hit Fabric.com, a box will pop up asking you to join their e-mail newsletter list, and you’ll also get a 20 or 30% off your total order coupon. I waited until I got the offer for a 30% off coupon before buying this fabric.

4. Use those coupons!: Coupons are seriously a cosplayer’s best friend, especially when you hit the big box craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Jo-Ann’s, and Hancocks. Each of these shops almost always has coupons available, especially if you sign up for mail, e-mail, and/or mobile notifications. Many of these stores also have mobile apps with coupons, so make sure to snag those too!

Even if you don’t happen to have a mailer coupon, these websites all have coupons listed on their sites. Just Google “[insert store name here] coupon.” Most of the time these are for about 40% off, so it’s always worth your time to print one off, especially if you’re picking up a big ticket item!

Another perk to going to these shops is that most of them will accept competitors’ coupons, so keep those coupons handy no matter where you go!

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3 different costumes, all using the same wig!

5. Re-use costume pieces: Reusing costume pieces is one of the easiest ways to cut down on cosplay costs. For example, high quality wigs can get pretty costly, so I try to do different variations on characters. My good Rogue wig, for example, cost about $80 to make, so I get as much mileage out of it as I can. I’ve worn it for my Kotobukiya, casual, and Marvel Now! Rogue.

Same goes for my Princess Jupiter and Ms. Marvel variants. Both of those costumes happened since I already had a large amount of materials on hand, making my “total” cost for each of those costumes around $75. Definitely cheaper than my Sailor Jupiter!

Photo by Gone Catawampus.
Callula Cosplay and I swap skills quite a bit. She made this gorgeous mirror for my Belle, and I made her Huntress bodysuit.

6. Trade skills: This is a new thing for me and I’m absolutely loving it. I have several friends who are great with props and leather, but not so great at sewing. So we work out agreements in advance and trade sewn pieces for props and such. It’s been great! Not only do I get something made much better than I ever could, I don’t drop the money I normally do in failure (I tend to muck up even the most basic armor. Whomp whomp).

Of  course, you could also expand on this idea for other services, such as photography and web design. Of course, your mileage may vary, but think outside the box in terms of potential swaps.

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Repurposed work flats for Fluttershy. I wanted to see if adding glitter worked well, and it did! I also added my gel inserts.

7. Thrift, thrift, thrift!: Buying gently used stuff from local thrift stores, eBay, or even re-purposing old things from your house is a great way to cut back on costs. I do this a lot with old shoes. I’m not willing to pay a lot of money for shoes I’m going to tear apart and rebuild anyway. Once my flats and pumps are too scuffed for work, I’ll hold on to them until I need them for a costume. And as an added bonus, they’re already broken in and comfortable.

Keep an eye out for used costumes as well. Many cosplayers will sell their used creations for cheap. Storenvy, Etsy, eBay, and cosplay pages are a great way to keep an eye out for such sales.

Ms. Marvel was made largely from scraps. I had leftover gold from Supergirl and black from Rogue.
Ms. Marvel was made largely from scraps. I had leftover gold from Supergirl and black from Rogue. The original mask was made from scrap Worbla. I also got the wig second hand from another cosplayer. Photo by Aperture Ashley.

8. Keep an open mind, especially when it comes to the bargain bin: Sometimes stuff I find in the remnant bin or even in my personal stash inspires my costumes. This was definitely true for Marvel Now! Rogue and Ms. Marvel. Marvel Now! Rogue was inspired by a trip to my local spandex outlet, where I found the perfect green fabric for about $3/yd. I already had black and white fabric on hand, in addition to a leather belt, white leather paint, and an X-shaped belt buckle from my classic Rogue. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s a pleasant surprise!

Commissions have been a really useful way to give me a little more flexibility for larger projects.
Commissions have been a really useful way to give me a little more flexibility for larger projects.

9. Monetize your hobby: One of the main reasons I started offering commissions was so that I could have a bit of extra spending money for bigger costumes like Lulu. But commissions aren’t the only way to recoup costs and fund future projects. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Set up an online storefront for trinkets or accessories. Something that doesn’t take away too much craft time, but is also profitable. I’m hoping to do this soon!
  • If you have a blog, set up sponsorships through a resource like Passionfruit.
  • Sell your used costumes and accessories.
  • Sell cosplay prints.

10. Learn to say no: This is probably the hardest one on the list for me. It’s so  easy to get caught up in the race of “Who can make the most costumes?” Theoretically, I could make a costume a week, but that’s not enjoyable or anywhere near affordable for me. If it works for you, by all means, go for it. But remember that it’s okay to say no to doing a group costume if you’re not feeling it or bumping a costume back to a time when you can afford it. Real life comes first!

I hope this list helps! Do you have any tips on budgeting for cosplay?

Life According to Instagram: April 2015

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1. Y’all are probably sick of seeing these suits, but they took up a lot of craft time this month, so they’re worth mentioning (again). I’m really looking forward to this group!

2. The weather in April was been a mix of ridiculous rain and gorgeous spring weather. This is one of the few times Texas has such nice weather, and I love it! The roses in our backyard were in full bloom most of the month.

3. I don’t collect many figures (one expensive hobby is more than enough :P), but the ones I do collect are normally characters I have cosplayed or intend to cosplay. Lulu is one of the figures from the original FFX Kotobukiya line I didn’t snag back in the early 2000s. I think I have Tidus and Yuna in a storage box in my garage. Fortunately, eBay is a beautiful thing and I got this lovely lady to add to my collection! Because collecting figures totally counts as research, right?

4. After an unexpected (and very costly) car repair this week, I’m finally biting the bullet and setting up an online storefront. Nothing like a car repair bill to light a fire under your butt :P I hope to have some product ready to go in the next 2-3 weeks. I’ve had all the materials for these clutches sitting in my craft room for months, so it’ll be nice to make some space again. I’m planning to do small runs of about 15 items or so initially to get a feel for demand. I’ll probably post some old costumes and wigs as well since my closet’s getting pretty full. For those of you who have storefronts which do you prefer: Etsy or Storenvy? I like the free side of Storenvy, but Etsy seems to have better overall exposure.

5. Scarborough Faire was a blast! I haven’t been in years. Since I’m neck deep in spandex suits and other summer costume builds right now I decided to go with a quick and easy costume. I bought the dress off eBay, wore my old Wonder Woman boots and a corset I bought at my last trip to Texas Renaissance Faire, and then picked up a flower crown once we entered. Very comfy for trekking across the fair grounds!

6. I finally got my custom PC up and running thanks to friends who are far more tech-savvy than me. My new computer is a dream and playing FFXIV on it is so much better than playing on my old PS3!

7. Age of Ultron was a blast! I wasn’t able to get off work early, so unfortunately I didn’t get to cosplaying. But my trial run of Marvel Collector Corps had me covered. Literally ;)

8. Thor is still adorable as ever, in case you’re wondering. We sort of flopped on finishing his puppy training classes, but his trainer is awesome and offered to let us make them up for free. He is thankfully responding to most of the basic commands and is pretty good on a leash these days. We’re still working on impulse control and chewing everything in sight, though.

9. Batwoman is so close to done. I’m hoping to put the final touches on everything this weekend! ‘Cause, uh…. I still have a Spoiler commission, Princess Jupiter to repair, and Margaret to make in the next 4-5 weeks. At least I already have the materials?

Are you on Instagram? Let’s be friends!

WIP: April 2015

Man, I regret saying that things have been slow the last few months, because April was insane!

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Fun fact: According to the DC Wiki, Kate is 5’10”. Yay for cosplaying tall ladies! :D

Batwoman: 85% complete

My big personal project this month was Batwoman. I managed to knock out the bodysuit, belt, gloves, and I nearly finished cape. I’m planning to re-style my Ariel wig for this costume and use my Captain Marvel boots (sans gold buttons, of course). All that’s left to finish this costume is finishing the last bit of the cape (hopefully tonight), picking up my mask, putting everything on the belt, washing my wig, and figuring out how I want to handle my makeup. I’m inclined to go with the white face makeup the more I read her comics. I’m very excited to debut this at Fan Expo in May with my friends’ Gotham Girls group!

I also picked up some Lulu figures. Because... research?
I also picked up some Lulu figures. Because… research?

Lulu: 5%/Research and Gathering

Slowly but surely, I’m creeping up on start time for Lulu. Six weeks and counting! I had hoped to tweak my moogle plush and knock out another to-do this month. I bought it while I was in Japan for a summer study abroad stint back in college, so I thought it’d be a cool (and simple) way to incorporate a fun travel memento into my costume. But the more I looked at my moogle, the more I realized that it’s far too small in proportion to my body. It’s only 9″ tall and Lulu’s is basically the length of her upper torso, which on me translates to about 18″. I did some research and found a few Simplicity patterns for teddy bears that I plan to alter for my costume. Should be an interesting experience!

I’m also sourcing more swatches for Lulu’s base dress and hunting for Venice lace to supplement the embroidery designs. And taking donations for belts :P.

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Nananananananana… Bat-ladies!

Commissions:

These took up the bulk of my craft time this month. Several members of the Gotham Girls group asked me to make their bodysuits. All of these suits are variations on Kwik Sew 3052.

Mia’s Batgirl is made from black stretch vinyl, purple milliskin, and yellow milliskin for the logo. The Spoiler is made from purple milliskin. Callula Cosplay’s Huntress is made from black and white stretch vinyl, and the side panels on the top are made from black athletic mesh and purple milliskin. I still need to make the hood and cape for Spoiler. Hopefully this weekend!

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Oops, only photo I have of the Ms. Marvel commission. Derp.

I also did a couple of smaller commissions this month, including adding the gold lightning bolt logo to a purchased leotard for a Ms. Marvel, tweaking Taffeta’s Squirrel Girl so that it has a scoop neck instead of a turtleneck, and several other minor alterations.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the progress I made this month. May is going to be a very busy month for me both in terms of crafting and events, so having the Gotham group projects pretty much done makes life much easier!

What’s on your craft table right now?

Fandom Friday: Games I Love to Play

IMG_0731It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! I’m playing a lot more games these days, so I thought I’d hop back on the bandwagon for this week’s post.

1. Final Fantasy X: This is the first video game I fell in love with. As a teenager, I logged close to 300 hours on it thanks to multiple plays. So when the remaster/HD version came out last year, I hit pre-order the second it was available. I’m really enjoying all the extra international content that wasn’t initially released, though I’m a lot slower at leveling these days. I’d love to beat all the Dark Aeons and extra bosses eventually, though it’ll probably take me another year at this pace :P

Half the entertainment value in FFXIV is running around and making my lala emote.
Half the entertainment value in FFXIV is running around and making my lala emote.

2. Final Fantasy XIV: My boyfriend introduced me to this game a little over a year ago as something we could do together. I resisted getting into MMORPGs for a long time, since I tend to have an obsessive personality and feared I’d turn into Felicia Day’s character from The Guild. It took me a while to come around on it, but I now enjoy playing a daily roulette and a few miscellaneous missions. Of course, it helps that my lalafell is incredibly adorable. Unlike FFX, it’s pretty easy to only play for 30 minutes to an hour at a time if you’re so inclined (and I totally am). Do any of you play? I’m on Goblin!

3. Persona 4: This is another one my boyfriend introduced me to. I love the combination of dating sim/dungeoun crawler. I play this game primarily on the Vita, which makes it pretty simple to play for small chunks at a time. I recently finished my initial playthrough, and I’d like to go through again to max out some of the social links I missed the first time, including Margaret’s!

4. Catherine: Another game from Atlus! I normally don’t play through a game more than once, but I’ve played through this one twice and want to knock out another run soon. I don’t know exactly why this one is so addictive. It helps that the game is pretty quick. I think my last run was about 10 hours. I also like the various endings and answering the questions as ridiculously as possible.

5. Drawful: Something a little different for this last one. It’s part of the Jackbox Games party pack and it’s a fantastic party game. The idea is that you pull up the game on your console and everyone uses their smartphones to play an electronic version of Pictionary. It’s hilarious the later you get into the night (and/or the more you drink).  The other games in the pack are also fun, but Drawful is my favorite!

What are some of your favorite games? You can see more responses on The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick!