Commission Notes: Super Sailor Moon

16830904_1142489569210481_4226702176260783512_n

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.

16473444_1129417023851069_5378495403887002738_n
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.

16830773_1140858806040224_5627557063756885891_n
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.

16807536_1143301539129284_8054626000879624703_n

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

16708217_1135553809904057_117553361457305699_n

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? 

Advertisements

Costume Notes: Super and Regular Sailor Pluto

15822941_1120691494706190_7015554878153765944_n
Photo by Cosplay Illustrated

Completed: October 2016

Hours Spent: Approximately 30

Debuted: Anime North Texas

Why This Costume: After A-Fest, the Cosmic Coterie crew decided we wanted to switch up our fukus a bit and decided we wanted to go Super! Our affiliates expressed interest in joining us to have a full set of senshi again, so I offered to take the role of Pluto! (I got extra tall boots so we can be almost height accurate 😉 ).

I think most Moonies have a favorite inner and outer senshi. While Jupiter is my all-time favorite senshi, I have a soft spot for Pluto! I actually considered making Pluto before Jupiter back in 2014, but decided against it since I didn’t know how to build props (or who to ask for a commission) at the time.

15073451_1038106289648810_6006304744769954203_n

Purchased pieces: 

How I made it: 

Note: I made regular and Super Pluto pretty much at the same time, which is why I combined these costumes into one post.

I swear, every time I make a new fuku I learn something new to improve the process. I don’t want to get too heavily bogged down in details since pretty much everything you need to know is over on the Cosmic Coterie fuku tutorials (seriously, I’ve written a damn novel at this point). However, I do want to point out a few fit tweaks that I’ve noticed since making Jupes 2.0.

15780989_1120690904706249_6027103839683644263_n
Photo by Cosplay Illustrated

One of the biggest game-changers in my fuku process comes courtesy of Katie Cosplays. She noticed a few of our fukus in the past have had issues with puckering at the point of the V. Turns out, lowering the point of bloomers fixes that problem! When I redrafted my pieces for Pluto and sewed the skirt on, I actually turned to Space Cadet Cosplay for feedback because I was convinced I’d done something wrong. It came out right on the first try (don’t mind the puckering here too much. My belt needs to be shortened by about 8″)! Normally there’s at least a little profanity and seam ripping to get the hip roll just right in my experience.

Another issue I noticed with Jupes 2.0 was skirt length. The pleats lose their shape at a certain length, and I definitely needed to shorten the hem for my Jupiter. Some of my front pleats almost look like they have puckers, and it’s just because the skirt is a hair too long. I’m finding that about 8″ from the bottom of the V to the hem and about 10.5″ in the back works well for me. This one is 7″ from the point of the V to the hem. If/when I get around to re-making this fuku (I noticed some minor holes in the base leotard last time I wore it), I’ll lengthen that to 8″. The horsehair braid is also much more effective with the shorter skirts as well.

15823232_10105317878630630_5708056190166910789_n
Hanging with my trash nerds, Callula and 10th Muse at Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve.

Working on the boots for Pluto was a fun experience and great practice for my upcoming Wonder Woman! I thought about buying pre-made Pluto boots, but the ones I liked best were close to $120, and all of them looked too short for me. My frugality won out, and I decided to make my own. I used NyuNyu Cosplay’s tutorial on how to draft the toppers. My first set of boots was a pair of knee high boots from eBay. These came out perfectly, but when I tried them on, they were a bit too short for my Amazonian legs. However, I did keep them for wandering around the con days. For round two, I bought some over the knee boots, cut them down to the right length and shape, and used scrap vinyl from Huntress to create the white topper.

I redrafted the Supers clear sleeves a bit with the input of the other Coterie members. We decided to go with clear mylar for the sleeves, which we did with Super Moon and Chibi Moon. While the vinyl I used for Super Jupes was more comfortable, the Mylar definitely holds its shape better. We covered the mylar with clear glitter chiffon using 3M, which did a much better job than the spray e6000 I used for Jupes. Tutorials and pattern are available here.

15085650_1041371079322331_8435729970027912328_n
Super Pluto selfie before ANT!

Koholint Cosplay reminded me both of the joys of sewing on an interfaced collar (seriously, soooooo much cleaner than non-interfaced collars) as well as faux mitered corners. These are so much cleaner than the ones I did on both of my Jupiter collars.

I’d like to take a minute to give MASK Props a shout-out for my insanely beautiful garnet rod. He pulled this together for me in a pretty short period of time while working on another big deadline, and it’s absolutely stunning. I’m so grateful to him for taking this project on when he toooootally didn’t have to! I’m planning to hang it above my craft closet for display purposes when it’s not in use.

dsc_3411-edit
Cosmic Coterie group photo by Stereometric with guest David as Tuxedo Mask!

Thoughts on this build: All in all, I’m so, so happy that I was able to make this costume happen. Pluto’s been on my wishlist for nearly as long as Jupiter, and it’s absolutely thrilling to be part of a full set of senshi! Now that this is done, I’m looking forward to a nice long break from fukus, haha (well, aside from commissions lol). I’ll add more photos as I get them!

Do you have a favorite inner and outer senshi? Who are they? 

10 Essential Tips for First Time Commissioners

tumblr_o7fhtwvc761sxq29yo1_500
Peggy Carter commission for Lady Amaraldi.

1. Be brutally honest with yourself:

Before starting commissions, you absolutely need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I willing to do? Are you good with wigs? What about foam? Or resin? Or leather? The idea here is to ask yourself what type of work you excel at and emphasize it. For example, I can do some wig styling, but I don’t consider myself an expert on it, so I don’t offer it in my commission services.
  • Is my work good enough for commissions? I ask myself this ALL THE TIME. The reality is that there’s a certain expectation of quality with commission work, and if you can’t meet that quality, then you don’t need to sell. My commissions are the same if not higher quality work than my personal costumes, because each piece is a representation of me and my brand.
  • Are you good at customer service? Being able to communicate with people is one of the most essential tasks of commissions. Many potential commissionees approach the commission process thinking they can get costumes cheaper than eBay or Amazon, or that different tasks are simple when in reality they’re quite time consuming. Being able to clearly and calmly discuss these issues with potential clients is an absolute necessity.
  • Do I have the time? This is one of my big personal hold-ups with commissions. Working full-time puts a big damper in the number of commissions I’m able to take on at any given time, and it also impacts which costumes I can make for myself. If I have a deadline for a commission coming up around the same time as a con, then I’ll likely have to re-wear a costume, because client work comes first.

2. Pay yourself FAIRLY

Again, this is something I struggle with, but I’ve gotten better at over the years. Due to the rise in fast fashion, many people misinterpret the skill involved in sewing (and any form of custom work, honestly). The reality is that creating a custom piece will ALWAYS cost more than something you can find in an online costume shop.

Much like car or home repair, labor is often one of the largest expenses involved. I used to barely pay myself minimum wage when I first started, and I was miserable. I felt like I sacrificed all my time to creating things for other people, and when all was said and done, I’d barely made enough profit to make it worth my while. Pay yourself an amount that’s commiserate with your experience and skills to prevent this issue. I pay myself $12-15/hour these days, much to the dismay of my friends and SO. I feel like this is a fair price FOR ME since commissions are my extra play money and allow me to get crazy with my personal builds. Keep in mind: this is a low-ball charge compared to some folks who do commissions as their main source of income, so don’t be surprised if you see higher charges as you do research.

10712694_592341230891987_4100483587874620488_n
This leotard was one of my first commissions, and a big learning curve in how to handle pricing! Cosplayer is Jade Cosplay. Photo by Tobious Cosplayious

To come up with a quote, I use the following formula: Cost of materials + Labor (Est. Hours x $12-15) = Final Quote charge (normally rounded down in favor of the client). When I get a quote request, my pricing process looks something like this:

capture

3. Talk to your clients

This is often one of the biggest frustrations I see with potential commissionees. They get everything set up and send off their money, only to never hear back from the commissioner or have minimal contact. Their deadlines roll around, and they’re in a panic, wondering if their costume will arrive in time. I’ve been in this situation before, and it SUCKS.

A quick message or post to let clients know what’s happening is so, so, so useful. Be honest and open about time frames and when you expect to work and ship so that clients have an idea of when to expect their items. For example, if someone’s at the bottom of my commission queue, I’ll let them know that I won’t be in touch/won’t have progress to show for at least so many weeks, or I’ll let clients know that if I have to order materials online, that they shouldn’t expect to get updates until at least a week or two after said materials have arrived.

14797418_1014619951997444_2139492400_n
Saturn commission that I recently finished. I send clients updates anytime there’s visible progress to keep them up to date on progress. Normally this translates to updates every 1-2 weeks once a project has started.

4. …but don’t let them walk all over you

On the opposite end of the spectrum, clients messaging every single day is only a situation that should occur if the commissioner fails to deliver or ghosts. If a client harasses you for photos/progress, reiterate that you need time to work.

Likewise, stand your ground on your policies and pricing. People will always ask to bend things here or there. Every case is different, but at the end of the day, you have to stand up for yourself in order to make commissions an enjoyable (and profitable) experience.

5. Remember: Your name is attached to EVERYTHING YOU SAY/DO

Social media is both a blessing and a curse for commissions. If you do it well, it’s an easy way to market yourself and gain clients and followers. But at the same time, you have to be conscientious of your online presence. Insulting another cosplayer’s work, shaming (of any kind), or bullying are obviously huge no-nos (and key indicators that you’re a crap human being, let’s be honest). But there’s more to it than avoiding the obvious. You have to evaluate what your brand represents and how much information you’re willing to share. For example, I’m not comfortable sharing much of my personal life online, partially because I feel odd letting the whole world know what’s going on in my day-today, but also I don’t want to impact mine or my fiance’s day job (or future job hunting).

Think about what works for you and for the brand you’re trying to create. Individuals have a bit more flexibility than companies, but branding still requires conscientious curation.

6. Promote yourself

13015638_887490788043695_8260122334560396191_n
Shadowcat Cosplay for Taffeta Darling of Fangirls of Dallas.

Again, this is another task I’ve struggled with in the past, but it’s a necessity to generate business. A lot of my promotion work happens at cons. I often wear nerd-inspired outfits on Fridays or Sundays (a.k.a. lazy con days), so any time someone comments on one of my outfits, I try to plug my name and distribute a business card. Most of my friends and family will do the same thing!

In addition to in-person marketing, online marketing is a must! There are lots of Facebook groups that put clients and commissionees in touch with one another in addition to standard social media marketing practices.

Here are a few groups to keep an eye out for:

7. Keep track of EVERYTHING

One of the most challenging components of commission work for me isn’t the creation of costumes. It’s the juggling work of keeping track of commission inquiries, where they’re coming from, and staying up to date with all the orders you need to make (not to mention deadlines). I get commission inquiries through all my social media platforms, as well as through e-mail and in-person chats. To keep myself organized, I keep track of all this information through Google Sheets and Trello.

Likewise, HOLD ON TO YOUR RECEIPTS, both digital and physical. Anytime I purchase anything related to my commissions or business, I put it in a bin just for tax related purposes. I also keep track of money via PayPal and Etsy’s shop setup. I definitely prefer spreadsheets as a way to keep track of money, so I make sure to go through all my receipts as meticulously as possible so that my headache isn’t so severe when tax season rolls around.

My workflow looks something like this:

  • Client reaches out to me for quote, and I make a note of the client, along with where they asked and other relevant information in a Google Sheet.
  • Once the client has agreed to terms, payment, and details, I send them a commission agreement form with fields for measurements and shipping information.
  • After the client has sent me their down payment, I begin ordering materials and starting on their piece.

I use Trello to organize out individual tasks for each commission, since it’s easy to drag and drop checklist items when they’re completed.

8. Even if you’re not organized, GET ORGANIZED

15267806_830459113723631_1361382315393543549_n
Sailor Chibi Chibi for Charming Darling. I completely misplaced the original gloves I bought for this commission, so I had to replace them. Derp.

This ties back in with point number 7. Again, I’m awful at this, but commissions have forced me to get better. There’s nothing worse than needing to work on a commission, only to realize that you’ve misplaced supplies. It’s an obnoxious hold-up and can cut into your profits.

I’m in the process of setting up a new storage unit in my craft room that doubles as a quick pressing station. It is only for commissions and business related purposes, so I won’t have to rummage through my other bins and storage units to find what I need. Knowing where everything is supposed to go will save you time and stress!

9. Have fail safes in place

Shit happens. Your sewing machine breaks. The fabric that’s perfect for a commission is out of stock. You (or a loved one) have serious health issues. Having back-ups will help you keep your sanity as you work on projects when shit hits the fan. I build extra time into my commission quotes for this reason so that clients are pleasantly surprised when their items get to them early, rather than infuriated when items are shipped to them months late.

14068051_1168884519851449_2864084275978705302_n
Negasonic Teenage Warhead bodysuit for Callula Cosplay (logos by her). Photo by Gear Owl Photography. Good grief this costume was an exercise in patience since EVERYTHING WENT WRONG. Thankfully, we got everything worked out and Dana looks awesome as Negasonic!

10. Take time for yourself

Burnout is a real thing with commissions. It’s easy to take commission after commission, and then realize you haven’t made something for yourself in six months. It’s okay to close up shop for a while and take time to work on things for you. In fact, you should do this every now and then to recharge your creative batteries. Your work will be better for it!

Have you commissioned costume pieces before? What was your experience like? 

Bows Tutorial – Cosmic Coterie

Big news to share! I’ve been working with the Cosmic Coterie on creating a comprehensive fuku tutorial. We’re releasing it in increments over the next several weeks, and the first one up is our bow process! I digitized all of our patterns to take the guesswork out of creating these.

You can check out the full bow tutorial by clicking the link below. I hope you guys find this helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or Cosmic Coterie!

Major credits go out to SparklePipsi. Her patterns and process gave us lots of ideas on how to tackle ours!

14364915_533885976814936_9212470282278269196_n

Sailor senshi bow tutorial

via Bows —