On Cosplay and Burnout (+ commission updates)

Man, oh man. This post… This post has been a long time in the making. I started writing it well over a year ago, and it’s taken a lot of time, distance, and reflection to find the words I want to express myself.

Over the last two years, I’ve had some of the best moments of my cosplay life along with some of the worst. I’ve cut out toxic people from my life who I once held dear, solidified friendships with people who are essentially my chosen family, published my work professionally, competed in competitions, judged in many others, guested at several cons, and lots more. And through it all, I’ve struggled with burnout and what it means for me going forward as a seasoned-but-not-quite-veteran cosplayer.

I first started noticing the worst burnout of my cosplay life to date around late February/early March of 2017, almost 5 years since I started cosplay. I was juggling several commissions while simultaneously trying to crank out multiple new costumes for a few of my favorite local cons, All-Con and Dallas Fan Expo, which were a little over two weeks apart. I’d dealt with con crunch before, and thought I had it all well in hand, but I also got sideswiped by an increased load at my 9-5 that had me staying at the office late and checking my work e-mails from home — a situation I promised myself I’d never be in again after leaving a horribly toxic work environment several years ago.

Combine all of that with being responsible for 1/3 of our Madoka build at Cosmic Coterie (FYI, organizing a large group build is a crazy amount of work, but that’s something to discuss later), and I crashed HARD the week before All-Con 2017. All the work I’d done to make sure my costumes were finished more or less went to waste; some of the builds I made are still waiting to be worn, a year and a half later. I attended the con for a day, out of costume, and only stayed for a few hours because I had to go back home and work on more commissions.

The whole ordeal was very sobering for me. I realized in that time frame that cosplay was turning into a job, and it was an unpleasant and poor paying one at that. By the time all was said and done, I was easily spending 20+ hours a week working on cosplay for other people in addition to my 40-hour a week job, and this left me with next to no time to work on my own builds, let alone this blog.

The idea of quitting cosplay replayed in my mind over and over during the next few months, compounded by heartache, exhaustion, and physical and mental consequences I’m still trying to fix. Most of my summer con season in 2017 was a blur and a repetitive cycle of work to the bone up until the very last second, then smile tiredly for pictures, and hustle back home to work on the next thing. Cosplay can be a rat race of churning out new content every week or even every day if you let it, and I definitely did for a while.

This year has been infinitely better for me in terms of workload, in large part thanks to the workflow changes we voted on over at Cosmic Coterie. In our very early years, only a handful of people handled technical construction, which was how I got involved with the group. With our Madoka build, we tried to move toward a model where all members were largely responsible for their own builds, but we appointed the strongest crafters as team leads to help tackle the trickier parts of the costumes. This didn’t work out quite the way we envisioned and the bulk of construction still fell on a handful of people. When planning for this year came around, we decided that each person should be 100% responsible for their own builds. We still help each other out when the need arises (such as with our Outer Senshi build this year), but ultimately every person handles their own stuff. This has GREATLY reduced my overall stress, but I’ve still been guilty of taking on more work than I can handle this year, specifically in the realm of commissions.

Moving forward, I’m re-focusing on my efforts on getting back to my cosplay roots: making for the joy of making. I love learning new skills, and I love emphasizing craftsmanship above all else in my work. Working at the speed of light over the last few years has forced me to sacrifice both, and I’m excited to get back to doing what I love.

As a result, I’m taking a brief hiatus from commissions, at least through the end of 2018. I love doing commissions and helping people become their favorite characters. But the reality is that I can’t continue at this pace, especially while working full-time.

All that said, I hope y’all will stick with me through this next year. I have a lot of exciting projects and creative endeavors planned for the coming months, and I can’t wait to get back to sharing them all with you here.

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Commission Notes: Super Sailor Moon

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Completed: February 2017

Hours Spent: About 40 hours

How I made it: I know, I know. ANOTHER FUKU. I keep promising myself/y’all that I’m going to cool it with these, but apparently they’re becoming one of my staples.

For a long time I told myself I wouldn’t take Super Moon commissions since I definitely prefer the gradient dyeing we did for Cosmic Coterie and lack an airbrush. However, my client was fine with the stripe approach from the 90s anime and I did a few other experiments with this build, which I’ll focus on today.

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Prior to tapering the hip rolls.

Let’s start with that pesky double hip roll again. I’ve made a couple of double hip rolls with upholstery piping, but I honestly am not in love with it. So I went back to upholstery foam and even further back to my Jupiter 1.0 days when I used Zan‘s pattern. I used her hip roll pattern piece for the front, and then tapered it down to almost 1/4 the original size. This gave me a chance to really control the depth of the taper and make it even (this is something that drove me crazy with our original group build). I know that Moon has a brooch that covers up the point of the V, but having messy work drives me batty, so I’m glad I was able to clean this up! The gold hip roll is 3/8″ smaller all around than the white one.

Both of the hip rolls are sewn into the seam. I basted the gold one about a half inch above my normal stitching line on the bodice to accommodate the clunkiness of both rolls. Once both hip rolls were in place, I then hand stitched the entire hip roll with a back stitch for durability, using my basting lines as a guide.

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Pro-tip: Don’t use ribbon or straight grain fabric for the stripes if you’re using the circle skirt approach. It won’t curve around the skirt properly and will lead to bubbles and wrinkles (like this when I hadn’t pressed my seams).

The skirt was a… special challenge. I wracked my head for weeks with this. My initial inclination was to level the skirt then cut off the portions I needed and use them as a template, but that would have required INSANE precision. Eventually I realized I was making it way too complicated and cut super long strips of fabric on the bias. I had originally ruled out continuous bias tape (so apparently this approach has a shit ton of names, because I was chatting with the girls and we realized that we were all talking about different techniques lol) because I didn’t want lots of seam lines showing, but I made sure that my seams were tucked into the folds of the pleats for the most part.

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To create the sleeve petals, I cut a strip of Worbla (1″ wide X 10″ long), layered it on another strip, and heat formed it over my dress form. Once it cooled, I glued each layer of the Mylar/Organza petals one at a time with e6000. I let each layer get to the point that it was dry to touch before I added on a new layer. Once all 3 layers were attached and mostly dry, I glued a strip of Velcro on top and fleece on the bottom to make it slightly more comfortable. There’s a matching piece of Velcro on the lining of the chest armor to keep it in place. Credit for this idea goes to MASK Props. I love how he did the sleeves for PockyPants‘s Chibi Moon

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The last major change I made on this fuku was on the butt bow. I used my trusty Pellon 808 interfacing instead of vinyl and like it a lot better. I hate that the bow isn’t transparent, but it holds its shape much better with interfacing versus vinyl.

That about covers this fuku! You can find more details on my other fukus here, and tutorials on how to make a Cosmic Coterie style fuku here.

What’s your favorite version of Sailor Moon? 

Costume Notes: Super Sailor Chibi Moon

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All photos by Ash Snap ’em

Completed: August 2016

Hours Spent: About 40 hours

Debuted: AnimeFest 2016

Why This Costume: This was a Cosmic Coterie group effort to complete Super ChibiMoon for the lovely PockyPants! ChibiMoon is her favorite character, so when we had a chance to do some recasting, we decided that she should get a new fuku!

 How I made it: Since this is Yet Another Fuku (sorry in advance, but MORE ARE COMING!), I’m going to focus more on the elements that made Super ChibiMoon a challenge and set her apart from a standard fuku.
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Pro-tip: the gold roll is slightly smaller than the white one, so I used the largest and 2nd largest cording available at my local Jo-Ann’s as appropriate (I believe it was 1″ and 22/32). we also used the smaller cording for the glove rolls! Saturn is Pocket Sized Cosplay

One of the main differences Super Moon and ChibiMoon have compared to the other senshi is the double hip rolls. A single hip rolls is ALWAYS a challenge to get clean (especially when you work with foam), but the double approach added yet another wrinkle. With our Super Moon, we originally went with the same foam we used for the rest of the senshi, but it was literally impossible to sew by machine, and still an insane challenge to sew by hand. I pricked myself sooooooo many times. My thimble was a lifesaver!

To make life a little easier for myself this time around, I picked up some upholstery piping, covered it in a layer of quilt batting so that the ridges wouldn’t show through the spandex, and then covered the whole thing in gold and white spandex. To create the tapered points, I cut the ends of the piping at an angle and covered them with tape since this piping frays like the devil. Once both sets of rolls were complete, I hand basted them together, then basted them to the leotard. While I could get the hip roll combo through the machine, I ultimately opted to hand stitch it to get as close to the roll as possible and finished up the interior edges with my serger for durability.
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PockyPants’s husband, Mask Props, airbrushed the skirt and collar pieces I cut. This skirt proved an interesting challenge in terms of the hem. With circle skirts, you’re supposed to let them hang to allow the bias to stretch out (which we did prior to painting), then level the hem and finish it. Since we had to paint the skirt prior to sewing it, I had to take length off of the top of the skirt rather than the bottom while also making sure the gradient looked consistent. It’s definitely a challenge, and I still see spots that I’d like to go back and fix before our next group wear, along with the hem for our Super Moon.
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 Another issue we addressed with ChibiMoon is the paint on the collar. Our Super Moon’s collar paint bled horribly on her chest armor after a full day of wear at A-Kon. Fortunately, we got most of it out, but to help prevent that issue with ChibiMoon, we hit it with a few layers of Scotch Guard. So far it’s held up pretty well!
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I’m particularly pleased with ChibiMoon’s butt bow. We took our standard butt bow pattern and enlarged it by about 30%, and I also drafted the cascading tails. I picked up the same mirror organza we used for Super Moon and used French seams for durability. Super Moon’s butt bow utilized serged seams, and unfortunately the opalescence of the fabric shows all the overlock threads. A French seam this time around resulted in a much prettier and stronger finish! Can’t wait to get on a making one for Super Moon as well 🙂
We also wanted to take advantage of the sheer nature of the fabric to match the manga artwork, so we took a cue from Ohheyabear Cosplay and lined the bow with a thick vinyl. The result is lovely, albeit heavy, so it tends to droop throughout the day. Mask Props is going to rig us a clear U shape device to support the weight of the bow for next time.
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Couldn’t resist adding this one. Moon is Dani Peddington Cosplay!
 Thoughts on this build: All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out! I’m so happy I could help PockyPants embody her favorite version of her favorite character. There are some fit tweaks I want to make for next time, and I can’t wait to document those for an upcoming sailor fuku tutorial I’m working on with the Cosmic Coterie girls!
Which senshi form is your favorite (classic, Super, Eternal, etc.)? 

Costume Notes: Hannah (Rat Queens)

I’M NOT DEAD I SWEAR. Haha. I’m sorry for the accidental radio silence, folks. Real life got hectic, and my blog got pushed further and further in the back burner. That said, I’m back and ready to share information on some of my recent makes! So let’s start with my first fully completed costume of the 2016: Hannah from Rat Queens!

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Photo by Mehreen Rivzi Photography

Completed: February 2016

Hours Spent: Somewhere between 40-50

Debuted: Dallas Comic Con Fan Days

Why this Costume: Callula Cosplay and I are big Rat Queens fans and have been thinking about doing these costumes for about a year. Our lucky stars lined up beautifully when we met Space Cadet Cosplay and quickly turned her into a fan! Our friend Vicky Bane has a gorgeous Dee costume, and she joins us at cons as her schedule allows!

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Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

 

How I Made it: HAHAHAHAHA, oh man, I made this WAY harder than it needed to be. I decided early on that I wanted more natural fabrics for this costume, and specifically fabrics that had really interesting texture. I ultimately settled on silk shantung with a really nubby hand. It’s so vibrant! It was also the most expensive part of my costume at $20/yd, so I made lots of mock-ups before I got to any of the good stuff!

For the bolero, I used the shrug pattern from Kwik-Sew 3400 and the hood piece from the Avacado hoodie. I slightly underestimated how much fabric I needed, so I wound up finishing the edges with red bias tape. For the cuffs, I cut off the sleeve portion just below the elbow, then used the same piece to draft the cuffs (proper side, lining, and facing). My first step with the cuffs was to interface the exterior facing piece, then sketch and top stitch gold vinyl trim. I held the vinyl pieces in place with Wundertape. Once the proper sides were finished, I used my lighter pink pieces as the lining and cotton for my facing. I can’t turn my cuffs down this way, but it makes for a clean finish and Hannah never wears her sleeve down anyway.

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Prior to adding the cuffs.

The corset is my trusty TV-110 pattern and by far the most difficult part of this costume. I made the full pattern as usual, using a peachy-pink silk shauntung as my shell fabric. The pieces are fused to duck cloth, which acts as my stability layer, and I used a pink cotton broadcloth as a floating liner. For this corset, I used twill tape for my boning channels since I used German plastic boning, which is thicker than standard spiral steel. I made continuous bias tape from my scrap fabric pieces.

Once my corset was fully assembled, I added the grommets on the front panels and cut out the front for the bust cups. This was definitely the trickiest part of this process. I decided early on that I didn’t want to do the cincher/bra approach that a lot of cosplayers use. BIG MISTAKE. I should have gone with a corset pattern with built in cups, because I had to re-do this piece 3 times. Ultimately, I settled on making a belly-dance style bra that sits under the corset so I get a bit of extra support for my girls. Check out this tutorial for an overview.

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Initial corset in progress.

Creating the bra was a very time-intensive process. First, I patterned out the designs using scrap cotton and used the design to cut out my main fabric. From there, I serged my edges (the fabric was super fray-happy) and stitched a dart so that the fabric would curve over the bust. I then pinned the pieces to the bra cups, cut out my vinyl, and attached the vinyl to the bra cups with Wundertape. That provided plenty of stability when I top-stitched the vinyl to the cup pieces. After stitching the trim down, I hand-stitched the pink fabric to the cups, then hand-stitched the cups to the rest of the bra. Like I said, time-consuming, but it worked out well!

I drafted Hannah’s mini-skirt myself, but I used the Colette Iris shorts waistband pieces. This was the easiest piece, though I may take it in a bit more at the hips for future wears. The trim is pretty straight-forward and it closes with an invisible side zipper.

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Photo by Alan Tijernia Photography.

For the boots and gloves, I harvested pieces from old costumes. Specifically, my Bombshell Wonder Woman boots and my Captain Marvel gloves. I stripped the paint off of these pieces, and Callula gave them a fresh coat of Angelus paint to match my maroon fabric. Once she was done, I added the gold vinyl again. For the boots, I attached the vinyl with Barge cement, and I stitched the design on the gloves.

My faux belt is made from reject Lulu leather. For it, I just measured out my high hip measurement plus a few inches for overlap and doubled the width of my belt loops. From there, I folded over my pieces length wise and edge-stitched everything down. The ends close with sew-on Velcro.

I also made a hip pouch out of my belt material. I used this tutorial as a guide.

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Photo by Alan Tijernia Photography.

My wig was pretty darn fun to style. I picked up 2 pre-made buns from Arda and stuffed them with styrofoam cores in the shape I needed. Once I styled them how I liked them, I sewed the buns onto the wig using wefting thread. The buns stood out a little more than I liked, so I used long pieces from my base wig and wrapped them around the bottom of the buns to give them a more natural appearance. Since this ate up a bit more wefts than I would have liked, I hand stitched extra wefts from another old black wig for more volume. From there, I slapped on a blunt clip-on bang from Arda, and voila!

My original ears were a purchase from Yaya Han’s online store. They’re… okay. I’m not fond of the color, so if I do wear them again, I’m definitely going to paint them darker and add some shading.For my second ears, I got a pair from MadhouseFX Studio. These apply with Pros Aide or Liquid Latex. I used Callula’s pros aide, and they held on beautifully all day!

My wand was a borrowed piece from Callula! She made this in college for a theatre project. It was a great stand-in prop, but we definitely want to make Hannah’s staff from the more current issues soon!

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Photo by Mehreen Rizvi Photography.

For the tattoos, I sketched out designs similar to Hannah’s, filled them in with Sharpie, then scanned them into my computer. I then cleaned up the design and printed it off with Silhouette tattoo paper. This is such a great way to save time on make-up! It is fairly time consuming to cut the pieces out, but doing so in advance means that it only takes about 2-3 minutes to apply when getting ready. I have pretty sensitive skin, so I tested it out last week and was super giddy when I didn’t have any kind of allergic reaction. Would you guys be interested if I post my digital file on Google Drive?

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Photo by Alan Tijernia. Rat Queens logo edit by Sabrina Pandora.

Thoughts: This is by far one of the most fun costumes I’ve ever worn. Hannah’s crass, rude, and blunt, and it was so much fun to be utterly ridiculous and be in-character. It was also a blast to hang out with some of my closest friends who also share this fandom with me! I can’t wait to bring these costumes out again for future events.

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P.S. If you like our flasks, you can get one for yourself here. They’re Tess Fowler approved 😉

Who’s your favorite Rat Queen? 

Fandom Friday: Favorite Ways to Netflix and Chill

Happy Friday! I was hoping to share a new make with all of you today, but my camera is in need of some TLC, so have a Fandom Friday post!

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The term “Netflix and chill” always makes me giggle. I don’t really associate it with with hooking up. When I watch Netflix and chill, it really is just that! Here are my favorite ways to hang with Netflix:

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Netflix saved my sanity while working on Lulu.

 

Crafting: I’ve mentioned before that I tend to watch A LOT of Netflix while I craft. I like the background noise. Often times I’ll watch my favorite sitcoms on repeat. I’ve made several cycles through How I Met Your Mother, Buffy, Angel, Archer, Bob’s Burgers, and now Friends (high school Mindy LOVES that it’s streaming now 🙂 ). I tend to save shows I actually want to pay attention to for hand stitching or other crafts that don’t involve my sewing machine since I can spare a little more attention that way.

From bed: Not gonna lie, one of my favorite lazy indulgences is hanging in bed while wearing my warmest PJs and watching my favorite shows, especially on a rainy morning. I normally do with shows the boyfriend and I are both into. Right now, that’s a run through of The Office!

From the couch: Occasionally I feel the need actually get out of bed (I know, what?). I still enjoy a good Netflix binge, though, so watching some shows from the couch is one way that my guy and I hang together. Of course, this is also prime cuddle time with Thor pup.

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Thor is always a great sick day companion.

When I’m sick: Maybe it’s just habit at this point, but any time I’m sick, I tend to just fall into bed and watch Netflix. It doesn’t take too much effort, and watching my favorite shows is like chicken soup for the brain.

When I’m working on household tasks: Again, I really like the background noise of my favorite sitcoms. At this point I have most of Tina’s jokes memorized. I especially like watching Netflix while doing laundry. It’s such a mindless task, and I enjoy the chance to catch up on my favorite shows!

Well, those are a few of my favorite ways to Netflix and chill. What are some of yours? You can see more Fandom Friday posts over at The Nerdy Girlie or by searching the hashtag #5FandomFriday.

Sewing and Body Image

It’s that time of year. You know what I’m talking about: all the billboards and advertisements screaming, “Lose that holiday weight!”, “Get bikini body ready!”, “Your best you is waiting!” And yet as another New Year comes and goes, I find myself asking if it’s really worth it to get on the bandwagon again.

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In 2014, I was in a really good mental place. I stopped paying attention to the scale and focused more on how my body felt. Taking a ready-to-wear (RTW) clothing fast and creating clothes that actually fit me well really helped me appreciate my figure. And to be honest, I’ve felt really awesome overall in recent years. That mental state hit a roadblock with a visit to the doctor in early 2015, when I learned that I gained 40 pounds rapidly, putting me at the heaviest weight of my life.

In hindsight, I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise. I knew that my jeans felt a little snug, and I expected 10 pounds or so, especially with travel (thanks for the buffets, Vegas), changing birth control medications (according to my doctor, I’m sensitive to changes in appetite, but the medication itself isn’t responsible for my weight gain. Suuuuurreeeee….), moving, and generally letting my fitness and health take a backseat. Still, dealing with this news was rough. Much of my life has been a battle of reconciling my frame with what’s ideal or even considered “healthy” by that oh-so-annoying and outdated BMI measurement. With my height and frame, I’ve teetered in the overweight to obese category pretty much since I hit puberty.

The funny thing is that even at my lightest weight, I really hated my body. I fell into a dangerous cycle of binge eating and then working out for hours afterwards, sometimes upwards of 3-4 hours a day. In hindsight, it’s clear that I was struggling with depression and self-medicating through excessive exercise.

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See: me in grad school.

I focused so much energy on keeping the scale down that I forgot how to enjoy things, including working out. I seem to be in the minority on this, but I actually love working out! Especially weight lifting. I’ve always been strong, and spending some time pumping iron totally makes me feel like a badass.

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My mantra when it comes to workouts these days.

This year, I’m going to get back to that healthy mental place again, but this time I want to do it with a healthy body as well. I’m going on this weight loss journey from a place of self-love rather than loathing. There’s no deadline like my past attempts at weight loss. No magical number in mind. Just getting the point where I feel healthy and energetic again. I think that bringing garments back into my sewing rotation will help. My emphasis for the moment is on knit garments and patterns with clean lines for easy alterations should garments need tailoring.

So friends, I want to ask you: how do you handle weight loss and body positivity? Sewers: how do you deal with weight fluctuation and garment making?

2015 Year in Review

We’re quickly approaching the end of 2015, so I thought I’d take today to glance back.

I made 7 costumes total for myself this year:

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Captain Marvel. Photo by Kristi Grunden
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Belle. Photo by ACCosplay
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Margaret from Persona. Photo by Aperture Ashley.
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Batwoman. Photo by Scott Van.
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Wonder Woman. Photo by Roger Enyart on FB.
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She-Hulk and Red She-Hulk. Photo by Mehreen Rizvi Photography.
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Lulu from Final Fantasy X (1, 2, and 3). Photo by Callula Cosplay.

All in all, I’m very happy with these builds with the exception of Batwoman. I mentioned in my Costume Notes that the bodysuit just didn’t work for me. While the optimist in me would love to revisit that costume and remake the suit, I think I’ll add it to my used costume pile, sell it, and move on. I still love that cape, though!

Here are a few quick highlights from this year’s adventures:

  • Started competing in Costume Contests. Won Best in Show at DCC in February (Captain Marvel) and Best Craftsmanship at ANT (Lulu)
  • Shared on several websites this year, including Geek and Sundry, Titans of CosplayWomen of Comic Book Cosplay, and CosCouture.
  • Opened an Etsy shop
  • Completed 15+ commission builds
  • Learned lots of new skills, including corsetry, some very basic leatherworking, and embroidery
  • Invited as a guest and cosplay judge at local events
  • Invited to local libraries and museums to teach Cosplay 101 workshops
  • Served as staff advisor to my college’s costuming club
  • Had the chance to do some cosplay charity work
  • Got to work with several new photographers, including the fantastic Mehreen Rizvi and Kristi Grunden Photography
  • Met several of my favorite cosplayers and got to pick their brains (Thanks again for the book tips, Riddle!)
  • Made lots of new friends!

This year has definitely been my best yet for cosplay. That said, there were definitely times where I pushed myself to the point of burning out. I’m taking a (very small) step back from cosplay next year to give my wallet and my schedule a bit more breathing room, and to also allow me the freedom to explore my non-cosplay interests again, including garment sewing!

Here are my for-sure builds planned for 2016:

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Clockwise from top left: Sailor Uranus, Hannah from Rat Queens, Bruce Timm Poison Ivy, and Wonder Woman.

I’d love to squeeze 1-2 more builds in there next year if time and funds allow, but I’m not going to stress if I don’t. I’m far more interested in making quality builds, and possibly revisiting/tweaking some of my older costumes. I still have so many that need proper photoshoots!

And since we’re quickly approaching the New Year, here are a few of my sewing, cosplay and blogging goals for 2016:

  • Invest more blog time in tutorials. I started doing this early in 2015, but tapered off. I’d love to do more Back-to-Basics posts and post some freebie patterns/tutorials!
  • Clean up and reorganize my craft space. It’s so, so, so chaotic right now that I can barely function. Over the holidays, my goal is to take a few days to reorganize everything. I’m hoping to also stash bust my old fabric, wigs, and supplies and post them on Etsy!
  • Get back to non-cosplay sewing. I sorely neglected this in 2015. I don’t want to kill my budget or time, so I’m shooting low and planning to make 1 non-cosplay thing per month. Eventually I’ll finish my tailored coat project!
  • Make the switch to WordPress.org. This has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while. WordPress.com was a great way to get this blog started, but now I want to do more with it, like add Disqus and my shop widget among other things. I’ll probably do this when I get through my first 2-3 cons of the year.
  • Do at least 1-2 non-convention photoshoots. This is a holdover from last year. I let time get away from me, and as a result, I didn’t allow myself much time to do non-convention photoshoots. Now that I’m planning to cut back on my builds, I’d like to squeeze in more photoshoot time.
  • Revamp my commissions procedures. I… was not smart in how I handled commissions this year. While I’m grateful for the experience I got, they overwhelmed me quite a bit. This year, I’m going to try working in blocks. I’ll open commissions during my slower times and accept a limited number of spandex based commissions. I’ll probably open my first block of commissions in March, so keep an eye out!
  • Add more variety to my Etsy shopMy clutches didn’t go over as well as I hoped, so I’m planning to add a little more variety to my shop next year. I’m planning to add some pillow covers and infinity scarves, but I’m also open to other ideas! Is there anything you’d be interested in seeing?
  • Get a new dress form. This is less of a goal and more of an inevitable “to-do”. My poor dress form is completely warped and more or less unusable right now. Once I get some spare funds I’m getting this gal!
  • Take a photography class. Another holdover from last year. While my photography skills have gotten marginally better, I’d love to take a class on Craftsy and set-up a mini-photo shoot area in my craft room to practice.
  • Spend more time interacting with other blogs. This is another thing I let slide this year. I’d really like to get back to interacting with other blogs on a  regular basis again!

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Bring it on 2016!

What are your goals for next year?

Handmade Holiday Tutorials

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! …Sorta. I don’t know about all of you, but shopping for holiday gifts is intensely stressful for me. Between going to stores and fighting the crowds, worrying about whether or not an item is in stock (or will ship on time), or just not finding the perfect thing for the geek in your life, holiday shopping can be a real hassle.

So in an effort to be thrifty/clear my ridiculous fabric stash and hand out some more personalized gifts this year, I DIY-ed most of my gifts! Here’s a round-up of my favorite quick-ish and easy tutorials if you’re still looking for the perfect gift this year:

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Stanley Tree: This is a free pattern from Sewaholic! I made this tree out of some super adorable Avengers fabric I got at Jo-Ann’s several months ago. The first one went to my work white elephant gift exchange, and my co-workers loved it! I left mine plain out of time concerns, but you can easily add bells, ornaments, and ribbons for a bit of extra flair.

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Infinity Scarves: These are way easier than I expected! I cobbled this one together from scraps of exploding Tardis fabric and some fleece, so it’s totally reversible. I also made one out of wool for another gift. This does require a touch of hand-sewing, but it’s still a super fast project. My first one took about an hour (again, cobbling together several pieces of fabric), and my second one took around 30 minutes.

Throw Blanket: I have a ridiculous amount of wool in my fabric stash, but I had no clue what to do with it. After some digging, I figured out how to turn it into an easy throw blanket! All you have to do with this project is cut the fabric to your desired length and trim it in double-fold blanket edging. You could get real fancy and add a lining and batting for a super cozy blanket.

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Reversible bag: I’ve made a few versions of this bag, and it’s a great introduction to making your own purse! Try geeky fabrics on both sides for a fantastic convention bag, or put a more subdued fabric on the outside for a more subtle purse.

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Pillow cases: These are super quick to make and easy to customize! For a basic pillow, all you need is about a quarter yard of fabric depending on how large you want your pillow to be. From there, you can do just about anything! For a very simple approach, try an envelope pillow. If you’re ready to go further, add an invisible zipper, some piping, a liner for a reversible pillow, contrasting fabric on the backside, or make a character themed pillow like the one Space Cadet Cosplay and I made. I’ll post a tutorial (and possibly a pattern) on this after the holidays.

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Bow clutch: I love, love, love making these clutches if you can’t tell. While I’d hesitate to recommend this to a straight-up beginner, they are fairly straightforward if you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt. Don’t want to make one? Grab one from my Etsy shop! There’s still time for you U.S. folks to snag one for Christmas 🙂

Here are a few other tutorials that I haven’t tried yet, but are on my radar for next year/belated gifts for this year:

Are you DIY-ing any gifts this year? 

Winter Sewing Projects

Who’s planning their winter sewing projects? I certainly am!

Now that my con season is over, I’m finally getting back into the swing of non-cosplay projects, which I’ve sorely neglected this past year.

My Top Winter Sewing Projects: 

1. Tailored Coat (B5685)

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Slightly speckled wool fabric. This is a medium-weight wool, so hopefully I’ll get more than 2 months of wear out of it 😛

This has been on my wishlist for well over a year now. My boyfriend’s mother gave me several yards of gorgeous wool several years ago, including some very nice grey wool. I’ve never had a long statement coat before, so I went with grey to keep it slightly more subdued.

One thing I’m looking forward to with this project is the chance to dive back into slow sewing. This pattern is pretty basic, so I’m planning to jazz it up with some advanced tailoring techniques, including bound button holes.

I’ve wanted a new coat for quite some time, and now that my sewing docket is clear, I’m reading to dive headfirst into this!

2. Gabriola Skirt

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Ah, another project that I’ve had on my docket for months. I was instantly smitten with this skirt when Tasia first revealed it. I love a good maxi skirt, but I’m not a fan of knit ones. The yoke is super pretty and adds a nice bit of detail and shaping on an otherwise simple pattern.

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Mock-up for the Gabriola skirt and my tailored coat. Thor is being a very supportive craft pup.

I opted to go with a black rayon blend linen from Harts Fabric for this skirt so I could use it as a wardrobe stable regardless of the season. As long as time works out for me, I’m hoping to knock out the bulk of construction on this skirt over the weekend. I’ve already made my mock-up for this skirt and I’m hoping to cut the fabric tonight. If everything goes well, you can expect to see a lot more of these in the near future!

3. Stanley Tree

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I still have a ridiculous amount of geeky fabric in my stash 😛

With the holidays just around the corner, I’ve been thinking about gifts for close friends and family members. Sewaholic’s free(!) Stanley Tree pattern is super cute, and it looks like a pretty straight forward build. I’m hoping to make a few of these out of my stash of nerdy fabrics to gift to friends and use for White Elephant contributions. Hopefully I’ll have a free evening or 2 next week to knock one out for my work White Elephant exchange!

4. Totoro Kigurumi (M6251)

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I seriously considered snatching Callula Cosplay’s kigu at Anime North Texas.

Many of my cosplay friends recently purchased kigurumis to wear for lazy days at cons and for lounging about. I’ve been eyeballing them jealously, and I finally caved and admitted I need my own. But of course instead of just going out and buying one, I have to make life difficult and make one :P.

I debated on what kind of kigu to make, and while I’d love a moogle, that seems like a one-way ticket to a giant stain. Instead, I’m making one based on one of my favorite Hayao Miyazaki films, My Neighbor Totoro. While I’d love to finish this before I head up North to visit family for the holidays, I’ll most likely knock this out during my winter break.

What are all of you making this winter? Have you made any of these projects? 

5 Fandom Friday: Fandoms I’m Thankful For

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Happy Friday! No Lulu post this week since all my spare time has been devoted to actually finishing her. Instead, have a 5 Fandom Friday post!

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Sailor Jupiter. Photo by Aperture Ashley.

1. Sailor Moon : How do I even begin to define how Sailor Moon has impacted my life? It’s such an emotional connection for me. I remember being a kid and waking up every Saturday morning to catch the DiC broadcast at 6am. I remember pulling clothes out of my closet to dress as a senshi. As an adult, Sailor Moon fandom has brought so many friends into my life, and even though it’s campy and silly at times, it’s very dear to me.

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Kotobukiya Rogue. Photo by Aperture Ashley

2. X-Men : This was another formative fandom for me. Much like Sailor Moon, my introduction to this fandom was through Saturday morning cartoons as a child. I’d always make sure to catch the Fox morning block, with a heavy emphasis on X-Men. That was when I really started gravitating towards Rogue. I loved her in those cartoons! She’s so strong and yet vulnerable at the same time.

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Moogle hoodie

3. Final Fantasy : I came into the FF fandom later in my teen years. My first FF game was Final Fantasy X, and man, I was hooked right off the bat. I think I was 15 or 16 when I first started playing, and along the way I put around 300 hours into the game. The story (especially Yuna’s Final Sending) made me weep repeatedly. FFX will always be my favorite in the series, and I’m so happy to finally have a costume from this game!

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Star Wars Cambie

4. Star Wars : Another formative fandom! My dad is responsible for getting me hooked on the movies as a kid. For quite a while, we made it a holiday tradition to marathon all the original films. When Episodes I-III came out, he even took us out of school to go see them in theaters (thanks, dad!). I’m really looking forward to the new film next month!

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Captain Marvel. Photo by Kristi Grunden Photography

5. Captain Marvel / Carol Corps : The Carol Corps is unlike any other fandom I’ve seen. They’re so welcoming and supportive, and there’s such an amazing emphasis on feminism and kick-ass ladies! I wasn’t always a Carol Danvers fan, mostly due to the aforementioned X-Men cartoon. She always came off as a villain to me. My fandom was inspired by a stashbusting cosplay build of Ms. Marvel’s Warbird costume, and the more I learned about her, the more I loved her, especially as Captain Marvel.

And there you have it! Funny how most of my major fandoms are represented in my cosplays 😛 Eventually I’ll get around to a Star Wars costume!

What are your favorite fandoms? Check out more responses on Twitter by following the hashtag #Fandom5.