Monday, February 17, 2014

Katsucon 2014 Video

I intended to post my whole "Katsucon experience" blog tonight, but as soon as I got home from work, I crashed and slept for 3 hours on the couch. Sooooo the blog entry will wait until tomorrow night. In the mean time, I present to you a wonderful video the AMAZING HS Media Cosplay Photography and Videography made of the con. I am in this video in my Belle cosplay, because she was kind enough and amazing enough to film me. You should all watch the video and stay tuned tomorrow for the con summary!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sleeves are evil

Okay, I'll admit, right now most things seem evil. (Like static, and straight pins, and plywood, and....) Nonetheless, sleeves can be a daunting project, especially if you're not working from any kind of pattern. As someone who tends to go, "Eh? Pattern? Why would I need one of those?", I want you all to know that I feel your pain, and I am here to attempt to help!

In my "helpful" attempt, I thus provide you with a tutorial on drafting and sewing sleeves. I know the page says "How to Sew Puff Sleeves," but take my word that this tutorial will help you understand sleeves better overall. It gives a very good explanation on how to make your own sleeve pattern. Yes, there's some math involved, but it's worth it. Before I leave you to continue work on the King of Static Cling (aka Jae-ha), I offer you a few tips gleaned from my own experience.

  1. Attaching the sleeves is way easier with a dress form. If you don't have access to one, see if you can steal a sibling or random passerby to pose with your shirt/dress/etc. while you pin sleeves on. If they object, be sure to poke them with pins.
  2. Be mindful - you can make a sleeve that's hard to get in and out of. Seriously, you don't want to do a creative wiggle every time you put on your creation. I learned that the hard way.
  3. Technically speaking, there are two ways to attach sleeves. One is "on the flat", which means you don't sew the front and back pieces together first. You sew them together at the shoulders, then pin the sleeve, and sew it literally flat. Then you do this one continuous seam up each side and down the sleeves. It's generally considered the "quick and dirty" way of sewing sleeves. The other way is actually sewing the front and back together, leaving armholes, and then pinning and sewing the sleeves to the armholes. I learned with the second method, so that's what I use. They say the first is easier, but I have never tried it, so I am not the best person to ask about that.
  4. Even if your arm fits through the armhole, you may have a hard time wiggling into the sleeve. Do a couple pinned or basted (depending on your pain tolerance) fittings before you officially sew the sleeve to make sure it's going to be comfortable, or at least livable. I personally have big biceps, and I have to accommodate that in my sleeve-drafting.
  5. Stare hard at that character's sleeves before you make any assumptions. If they're like Jae-ha, they're ready and willing to have fitted sleeves that are thinner at the elbow and wide at the shoulders and wrists. Which is, if you hadn't guessed, a pain in the butt. My point here, besides Jae-ha's general screwing with me, is don't assume the character's sleeves adhere to a straight line. You need to check if you are concerned with accuracy. And the same fitting rules apply here - make sure that fitted middle part, should ever you have it, fits your wrist and isn't a pain to squeeze into. If it starts to be a problem, consider using buttons or snaps hidden under a flap of fabric which you can fasten once it's on. Sure, it's cheating, but if you hide it well......
That's all I can think of right now. If I think of more things as the days go by and I work on these blasted sleeves, I'll blog them on Happy sewing, and may your characters be kinder than Jae-ha!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

General Update

Sorry...yet again for the late post, dear readers. As the con grows closer (and the post-Christmas chaos starts to hit my loved ones), my time grows scarcer and scarcer. So, for now, you have a general update on my cosplay progress and life, overall.

One of these days, when I know more and have found a method that makes me happy, I'm going to talk about binding for crossplay. I'm going to have a huge blog post devoted to it and tell you what I refuse to use (and why), what I will use sparingly, and what I adore. Spoiler alert: as of this time, there is no binding method that I adore. I just ordered two binders off of Amazon, however, and I'm hoping they'll work out better than my previous methods. This was sparked by the fact that I've been wandering around this evening in chest binding with bandages. I have been working on the mock-up of Jae-ha's costume, and since he does not have breasts, I had to flatten to get a proper fit on myself. Wearing the bandages around reminded me just how much I dislike them. They slip, they rub, and they wind up with strange bulges in unfortunate places. Overall, I honestly prefer open-chest binding, even though it can restrict my breathing to a small degree. After a little exploration of female-to-male trans blogs, I found a couple of binders that are fairly inexpensive and well-recommended. Once they come in and I've had the opportunity to wear them about to see how they feel, I will let all of you know.

In other news, I spent last night re-touching the Belle shoes. They had acquired several scratches, rub marks, and a few creases, all of which I carefully painted over. They now look a bit choppy in the paint job, so I'll be going over the entirety of each shoe again to ensure an even color. If you're repainting any shoes, remember to seal the paint to reduce the risk of cracking. There is no seal (that I know of), however, that can totally protect against scratches, especially if you, like me, go wandering out into the woods for photos. I do partially blame J-Jo Cosplay for that...but really, who can argue with the beautiful pictures she took?

My Jae-ha boots are in and just need their special touches. They're knee-high, which is taller than I'd like, but they're white, have about the right heel (which is none), and are a nice canvas for me to paint some detailing on. In short, they'll do. A pair of gi pants are being shipped to me as well for this cosplay. I was terribly disappointed; I have a gi somewhere from my martial arts days, but all I was able to find were the two tops, the light-weight summer top and the heavy-weight winter top. No pants appeared to my searching gaze. The lack of pants forced my hand, and I ordered the new ones. They should be in shortly.

My first Jae-ha wig came in and proved to be the wrong color. I normally order from if I have the chance, and I did this time, but the color in person was just not what I wanted. I do recommend them - their wigs are good quality and absolutely gorgeous in person - but in this case their green was not the right shade. J-Jo recommended checking Arda Wigs as their selection of green was fairly extensive, and I found one there that I liked. It's been shipped and should be coming in within a week.

The trim should be in within a week as well. The first experience with the trim was... Well, there's going to be a whole blog post on that, so that story will have to wait.

I think that about concludes this update. Good luck, dear readers, and good night!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cosplay Rant Time!

I do believe that as Katsucon nears, you shall hear at least a few rants from me, my dear readers. This rant is related to Jae-ha of Akatsuki no Yona. It is also related to a love of mine: boots.

First, let's take a look at this handsome, frustrating devil, shall we?

Ah, there he is. Look at that gorgeous cloak with that beautiful trim! (It was horrible to match, but that's going to be another blog post.) Look at that long, flowing hair! It's green, by the way, and my wig for that is coming in soon. And the hair tie. Oh, wait, I forgot one thing, didn't I? Hm, what kind of shoes are those, I wonder?


Wait just a minute.

Are those.....?

No. No, they couldn't be.

But they are. Jae-ha is wearing white cowboy boots. The only proper way to express my feelings about this issue is with a keyboard smash, but that would hardly be.... Well, let's just say I won't stoop that low on this blog, no matter how much I cursed him to friends. I try to remain vaguely professional here.

Back to the topic at hand. Why, you might ask, are white cowboy boots problematic? Well, dear reader, for a few reasons, which I will gladly outline below.

  1. Akatsuki no Yona takes place in a fantasy feudal country...based in Asia. There are especially heavy Chinese influences. (I am not the history buff my friends are, so I shan't go so far as to say it's based in fantasy feudal China - with my luck I'd be wrong - but the influences are strong.) Cowboy boots....are not Asian. Definitely not Asian. They are European-influenced and made for horse riding. THERE ARE NO COWBOY BOOTS IN FEUDAL ASIA.
  2. Jae-ha is known for his speed and agility; cowboy boots have virtually no tread. What does he do, slide into the picture? Try to get a running start and fall flat on his arse? Miss corners because he skids past them?
  3. Jae-ha is also known for leaping through the air and appearing to fly. With no-tread boots, does he always fall on the landing? Does he skid down rooftops and into the ocean? How would he even manage to take off?
  4. Jae-ha is a pirate. Why oh why would you wear white shoes as a pirate?! Why would you wear boots with little to no tread on a BOAT in the OCEAN?! IT MAKES NO SENSE. Finally (and infuriatingly)......
  5. Real cowboys and horse people do not wear white boots. The only people who wear white boots are cowboy-wannabes. No one who actually spends a great deal of time with horses and rides regularly wears white cowboy boots. Horses are dirty. White boots get dirt, dust, and grass stains on them, and they're a pain in the rear to clean off. Boots can have white accents and white parts, but those white parts are normally snakeskin or scales of some sort and thus much easier to clean. Incidentally, they're also much more expensive. Ain't it lovely? Solid white cowboy boots are only worn by rich folks who want to pretend to be horse people. As a result, they are expensive and rare. The lightest color actual horse people use on their boots is tan or beige, because those two are about as light as you can go without worrying about intense stains and daily clean-up. They're impractical and excessively troublesome. (I'm looking at you, Jae-ha, you jerk.)
I could not, for the life of me, find a nice pair of affordable white cowboy boots that did not have a stereotypical pair of cruddy wings on them no matter where I looked on the internet. All the nice boots were upwards of $150, and that's just not worth it. I ordered a pair of plain white riding boots which I will paint with pretty designs to make a very nice, pretty boot worthy of this darn pirate.

I'm still mad at you, Jae-ha. You smug S.O.B.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Adventures in serging

So, dear readers, I have a late blog post for you all! I've combined last weekend and this weekend's posts into one because I did something new. I probably won't be doing it too terribly often, as it does require a lot of preparation, planning, and me looking (gasp!) presentable, but hey, it worked passably for this one. Granted, I rambled a little, but hopefully you dear ones will find it charming rather than annoying. In short, the explanation for my delay is that Christmas wound up being more eventful than expected and that not long thereafter I found myself with friends in need. As much as I love you dear readers, a friend in need takes precedence over a blog post.

So, without further ado, the videos!

Thank you for reading and watching, my lovely dears! I apologize again for the late update, and I promise I am trying to form a buffer for myself so that I will be able to be more relaxed about updating the blog. Also, I said "first" twice in the second video, whoops. Proof again that I am simply talking to you all rather than carefully scripting myself in these videos. Additionally, the background on the first video is my Ouran High School Host Club wall scroll, obtained at Anime Mid-Atlantic with J-Jo Cosplay. The shirt I'm wearing in the second video is a limited edition Welcome to Night Vale t-shirt. Yes, I am a Night Vale fan, and quite proud of it.

I don't think I have much else to say, dear readers, so I shall bid you good night!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My beloved readers....

I must apologize, but there is no blog post tonight! I was planning to do something special for tonight's blog post but it unfortunately didn't quite happen, and I'm still up wrapping presents for Christmas. I will have a post for next weekend for certain since I did not have one for you this weekend, but for now, all I really have to say is......

Merry Christmas!!!!

Oh, and have a few of my favorite Christmas songs:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Important tools in a seamstress' arsenal: numbah two!

Good tidings to you in this season of joy, giving, and unfortunate holiday stress! I hope you all are avoiding the stress where you can and instead spending time with loved ones creating memories. Remember that this season is about giving, not receiving, and that often giving time is more important than giving presents. I would rather have a few quiet evenings spent playing games with and chatting with my family and friends than receive many expensive presents.

This week, I come to you with a brief but hopefully informative post about one of the infinitely important tools in a seamstress or gentleman seamster's arsenal:

Pinking shears! When I first started sewing and acquiring the tools for my new craft, I didn't even know what pinking shears were. The first time I saw a pair, I thought they seriously resembled those craft scissors you use in scrapbooking, the kind that leave fun shapes on the paper you're cutting. I thought maybe they were for some sort of creative fabric-cutting, and perhaps they left special edges for aesthetically pleasing designs. All I knew was that there was no way I'd ever need those things. As it turned out, I was quite wrong. Pinking shears are very useful for finishing seams. If you have a serger, that works better in many cases, but sergers are much more expensive than a simple pair of pinking shears and can be a daunting investment for someone just getting into the craft. I inherited my serger, and I'll admit I don't know how to use it yet so much of my finishing seams has been with my pinking shears.

Like my shears, these are Fiskars pinking shears.
They are not my exact pair, but they are similar.
The hover link is the image's source.
Here's a breakdown of what pinking shears do. Fabric is made by interlocking threads that go in two opposite directions. They weave together to form a whole. Look closely at any material and you will see these interlocking threads. Think of the looms many of us did as children, where you use a little hook and loop the bands under and over other bands to make potholders and other small things. Fabric is exactly like that, only much smaller threads and more intricately woven. When you cut this fabric, you run the risk of a single thread coming loose and separating from the rest. Then another will follow suit, and another, and another, until your fabric is unraveling. Ever had a pair of jeans sprout a hole in the knee? Remember how you could pluck the thread away from the hole and make it bigger? That's what I'm talking about here. Now, one way to break up this sort of unraveling is to break up the line of thread so that one strand can't free itself and loosen the entire length. That's where the jagged edge of pinking shears comes in. It breaks up the line of the fabric, helping to slow the fraying process.

Things to consider when purchasing pinking shears:

  • Good ones tend to be upwards of $20. Cheaper ones are available, but since you'll be using these a lot and the sharpness of the blade matters, I recommend getting a nicer pair. I have two pairs, one of which I inherited and the other of which I bought, and the bought pair cost me about $25. They've been well worth it and I don't regret the purchase in the slightest. They can be a slightly costly investment, but they're one I recommend making.
  • You'll be using them a lot to finish off seams, so get a pair that are comfortable for you. My preferred pair have a comfort grip and are fairly large. The inherited pair have a plain plastic grip and are not nearly as comfortable to use. To me, the comfort really matters, and it's worth paying a little extra for.
  • Pinking shears also come with bells and whistles and titles to make them sound more valuable. Do your research on all these special features before buying to make sure you really need and want what you're getting. A lot of the shears I've seen that tend to be on the $40 side are solid metal and look all shiny and fancy, but they're really not comfortable. They have a nice heft to them, but I'm not buying my shears for their heft, I'm buying them for comfort and efficacy. What I'm saying here is don't be swayed by titles like "dressmaker's shears" or similar claims. Do your homework, make sure these are what you want, and while they are worth investing in, make sure you're not over-investing in something that ultimately won't be worth the extra expense.
That's all I can think of for now with pinking shears. They're very very useful, but be careful about buying overpriced shears; I've seen them up to $80 for one pair. To me, they're not worth quite that much. My $25 pair will do just fine, thank you very much. If you don't already have a pair in your arsenal, start shopping now!

And good night, dear readers - good night.