Kagamine Rin “Reactor” for Anime-Zap 2015 – construction

I have a short off-week this week, which sucks, but I have been working ultra-hard the last three days on my convention costumes.  It’s definitely crunch time – I have one more off-week between now and the convention and I’m going to be out of town for two days of that!  So I really have to finish all the big pieces this week, and hopefully I can work on the little things during my work week, as I have time – something I really try to avoid doing, but I don’t have a choice anymore.

Two of my sister’s costume picks were Vocaloid – the Camellia one I’ve already covered; the other is Kagamine Rin’s “Reactor” outfit – which is undeniably cute, and I was looking forward to making.

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I dedicated Friday to working on the dress.  Which, as usual, I tackled in a fairly stupid way.

I may have mentioned before, my “day job” is actually a night job – I work third shift on a week-on week-off schedule.  The big pro of this is that I get a solid chunk of time to work on costumes on my off-week.  The big con is that I am not a daytime person, and it’s extremely hard to force myself into a daytime schedule on days off, which usually results in a constant state of exhaustion and me doing dumb things and making a lot of mistakes that could be avoided.

So, Friday, I got up super-early (noon), went out and got some shopping done, and then got to work on this costume.

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I had draped the pattern that morning before going to bed.  Had I been thinking more about it, I would have made the dress pattern in three pieces – bust, stomach, and skirt.  Actually, had I been thinking about it, I probably would have just draped the dress on my dress form, because I knew those pleats were going to be finicky.  But, well, hindsight.

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I cut out and assembled my lining first.  Thrifted cotton sheet – $1.

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I thought the best way to assemble this thing would be to pleat my fabric first, and then cut out my pattern over it.  This probably would have worked fairly well if my pattern didn’t have a bust dart.  But I went ahead with it anyway.

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I cut out the pattern pieces and stitched around the edges to keep the pleats in place.  At this point it was still looking good to me.  I did each piece – front left, front right, back left, and back right – one at a time, to keep things straight.

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I wasn’t liking the way it was looking at this point, but I kept going.

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I got everything assembled, threw a zipper in the back, and stitched on some gold trim I had bought.  The pleats in the skirt are a little messy, but not so much so that I’ll spend time I don’t have trying to fix them.  This dress is finished.

Yesterday, I took on the jacket.

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I cut out my pieces, again being careful to get my colors and sides right… only to find out, after googling, that I had it wrong!  When I made the dress, I did the pieces black-white-black-white, like a checkerboard.  I didn’t realize until I was on the jacket that it was simply half-black, half-white – I made it a lot more complicated than it needed to be.  Well, it was too late to start over on the dress, but I had to take the jacket apart and swap some pieces to get it right.

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I used Wonder Under to get the black-and-white designs on the front and back of the jacket, and down the sleeves.

I drafted a sleeve pattern the way I usually do, and then assembled them.

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I sewed right through the top of my sleeve by not paying attention – d’oh!  I managed to steam most of the holes away, though.  But they were really obvious in this fabric, which was white cotton broadcloth and black kona cotton – chosen mostly because they were on sale at JoAnn’s, but also I wanted something that would hold a nice pleat.

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So, I added some of the same metallic gold trim as is on the skirt to the cuffs and collar, and this project was finished!  Not bad for two days’ work!  Actually, there are a lot of parts of this outfit I’m not happy with, but it’s unlikely I’ll have time to go back and correct mistakes.  I’ll be spending tomorrow finishing the costume I started today, and then hopefully on Tuesday I can finish up some bits and pieces of other things that I’ve not yet gotten to.  Then all that will be left will be little things like jewelry, accessories, etc.

I’m not done yet for today; I have two wigs to style before I go to bed… sigh.  So much left to do!  It’s only my own fault for waiting so long to start these costumes, but still!

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Luna cosplay – part one

So, an honest moment here.  This blog is not the best showcase of my work.  I do make some efforts at a more professional-looking blog, but it’s not high on my list of priorities.  Anyway, all of what I post here is probably only about half of what I make, and it’s not necessarily the better half – my best items are the ones I make for other people, where I hold myself to extremely high standards – higher than costumes I make for my own enjoyment.  So what you get here on my blog is a mix of the good and the bad – and naturally, there will be some total failures from time to time.

So… I had really big ambitions this past week.  It began with a wig.

I ordered a cheap blue wig from Ebay a while ago, for my Dark Althena cosplay, but when I decided to change to the Lucia cosplay instead, I realized that the wig wasn’t going to work.  Lucia’s hair is more teal, and the wig I had was definitely blue, and I find I’m extremely picky about certain things when it comes to cosplay.  So, I ordered another one in a more teal-ish color – no harm done, very little money wasted.

But that blue wig just stared at me.  I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stand the though of not using it – I did, after all, go to some trouble to style it and make it look presentable, including five days of soaking it in some fabric softener to get rid of the horrible cheap wig shine (as a result, my apartment still smells like a field of flowers some weeks later.)  I was really determined to get some good out of it, for whatever reason.  So I started thinking about costumes I could use it for and then I had this brilliant idea.

Duh – Luna.

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I did some study of her costume, and broke it down into basically four parts – an underdress, a dress, a vest, and a shawl.  I thought to myself, this will be an easy make – I can probably get the whole thing done in less than a week!  Heck, I can probably get it done in a day!  I had plans to call this post “one-day cosplay” and show off how much you can get accomplished in a short amount of time.

Well – that plan got shot pretty quickly.  I severely underestimated this costume, and severely overestimated myself.

Of course, I wasn’t feeling my best this week to begin with, and I should know better than to try and sew too much when I’m already sick and tired – I always make mistakes.  But I overwhelmed myself with this costume.  I spent a good four days on it, and it’s still not done – it is nearly there; it’s 95% done according to my Cosplanner.  But it irks me that I didn’t finish it the way I planned.  Because, in theory, it should have been an easy make – it’s just four pieces, after all.

Well – on to the costume.

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Unlike the Lucia costume, there are some pretty good reference pics of Luna’s outfit.  What it looked like to me is that she has on a white underdress/shift type thing, followed by the yellow dress, then the blue and white overdress/vest/whatever, and the shawl tied around her hips.  I went digging through my newly-orginized stash, and found that I had nearly everything I needed – the only things I bought for this costume were some blue and purple remnants, and the fuzzy stuff for the bottom of her dress.

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I started with the shift, and made it your basic white shift – almost identical to my 18th century shift, except it has no gussets under the arms.  It’s made from an old linen curtain I got at the thrift store (price tag read $2 for a pair) and I cut my pieces at the bottom so I didn’t even have to hem it.  Although, I realized later that it’s a bit too long, so I’ll have to hem it after all…

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The yellow dress is made of some heavy yellow linen I’ve had laying around for a while now.  I was a little bit at a loss for how to build this – the image of Luna in her yellow dress shows it as being seamless with no visible opening or how to get it on.  You can see that it has a black collar and presumably laces or buttons at the neck.  I decided to open it up the front and make it lace up, cotehardie-style.  The hem is trimmed with maribou; I though that real (faux) fur would be too heavy and the maribou has a nice fluffy look to it.

The belt and the shawl are both finished, and the vest just needs a collar and closures put on for that to be finished, too – so really, this costume came together pretty well.  Just not as optimistically well as I wanted.  I’ll cover the vest and the shawl in my next post about this costume.

Bonus – here’s a pic of me modeling my wig, looking not-so-hot at six in the morning:

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I can’t decide whether or not to be pleased with my progress on this costume as a whole – on one hand, I got a lot done in a fairly short amount of time, but on the other hand, I literally had no reason to make this costume except for that I wanted to challenge myself.  I could have been working on my Anime-Zap! costumes instead, because that’s coming up quite fast.  Oh well – at least I learned my own limitations, if nothing else.

Lucia cosplay for Anime-Zap! 2015 – uniform, part one

Well, I didn’t get nearly as much done this week as I thought I was going to.  I had two extra days off for a total of eight days – which seems like a lot of time, but it vanished pretty quickly!  Although, I lost two whole days to being sick and I had a lot of chores to do, which ate up most of another day.

I meant to get this whole uniform taken care of this week, but so far, I’ve only got one piece done – the jacket.

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So, I studied Lucia’s uniform as best I could given there aren’t a lot of pictures of it and it doesn’t get a lot of screen time in the game.  I came up with a list of items to make to complete the outfit: a jacket, pants, boots (or possibly boot cuffs if I have a pair that works,) gloves, and that belt/loincloth type thing she’s wearing.  I began with the jacket.

For this project I bought some black stretch sateen, which is a nice looking fabric with a nice sheen, and, bonus, it stretches!  I threw together a quick pattern by draping on my dress form, and got to work.  There’s no visible opening on the jacket in the picture, but it looks to be double-breasted, so I designed it that way; it comes to about hip-length, and is slightly tapered to a point in the back.

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This was my back piece pattern.  I added a little extra room to have a pleat at the center back.  No other reason than that I though it would look kinda cool.

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My mum has a lovely little BabyLock serger, which I don’t often make use of – I put a lining in nearly everything that I make, which eliminates the need to finish the edges.  But I didn’t have the time, energy, proper fabric, or desire to line this jacket (I have a feeling it’s going to be hot underneath this and that cape, and I didn’t want to add to that if I didn’t have to) so I opted out of lining it, and serged all the seams instead.  So quick and easy!

I was lax with the picture-taking again, but the construction went mostly the same way it always does – I sewed the front and back pieces together, and then drafted a basic sleeve pattern, and attached sleeves.  I made a facing for the neckline, and hemmed all the other edges.  Then I tried it on to mark out where my button holes would be.

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Sewing button holes.  Mine are obviously far from perfect, but they serve their purpose.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get good at doing button holes and eyelets; mine are always just… a little bit off-looking.

I couldn’t really tell what kind of buttons she’s got on her uniform – they look kind of like they might be gold/red toggles, but there’s no way to tell.  So I just grabbed some nice silver military-looking buttons instead.

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Here’s the finished jacket, complete with buttons!  It turned out quite nice, for something which will mostly not be seen…

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I also threw together this belt/skirt/whatever thing she wears around her waist.  It’s made of the black stretch sateen and some scraps of the red sateen I used for the cape, and hooks in the back.  I’m not sure yet how I’ll get that stripe design or whatever it is on the front of it – I thought of embroidering it, but I’m not sure it will look the way I want.  More likely I’ll find some matching fabric or ribbon and just tack it on.

Also, I stumbled upon this really neat app lately for cosplayers – Cosplanner.

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It helps you to keep track of your costumes and projects, and I’m finding I like it a lot – It’s clearly designed for cosplayers, but I have ideas of using it for all my costuming projects.  And it’s free, so that’s a win!  Anyhow, you can see the ones I’m currently working on – all of my and my sister’s Anime-Zap! costumes are there.  You can also see how not close to finishing I am overall, considering that this convention is in January – yikes!  Having lists and percentages really helps me keep track of things, though, so this app was a great find.  Up until now I just had pages and pages of checklists on my phone that I was trying to keep track of, and it was kind of a mess.

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I have some extra days off this week, so I thought I’d get myself started with some cleaning out of my sewing room… and believe me, it needed it!

I call my spare bedroom my “sewing room”, but honestly, I never do any sewing in there.  It mainly serves as the place where I shove all my sewing and craft-related stuff… and I am always buying fabric, so it’s pretty full.  There were piles of fabric on the floor everywhere, and bags of fabric and sundries besides, not to mention half-finished projects draped over every surface.  Yikes!

I got up today and made a good dent in it, organizing my fabric, packing things up, and trashing stuff – a lot of stuff.  I threw out a lot of fabric, mainly small bits and pieces that I was holding onto for no good reason, and a few unsalvageable UFOs and other finished projects that the workmanship didn’t hold up on.

There’s a lot more to do, but I got one thing accomplished that I’ve been meaning to do for some time – I set up a corner of the room for photographs, with a nice backdrop.  Which means, a little more professional looking pics from now on (no more laundry in the corner or junk piled up on the couch! >_>)

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I used some really gorgeous sage green/gold taffeta that I’ve had hanging in my closet for quite some time now, saved away for a specific project I have in mind – but it’s going to be a while before I get to it, so I don’t feel bad about using the fabric for something else in the meantime.  I am absolutely in love with this fabric, by the way!

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And here’s a sneak peak of what I’m working on this week!  Any guesses to what it is?  (Okay, maybe the fact that I wrote it on the pattern is a giveaway…)

Lucia cosplay for Anime-Zap! 2015 – cape

I made a change to my line-up for the convention, and instead of doing the Dark Althena costume from Lunar: Silver Star Story, I’ll be doing Lucia from Lunar: Eternal Blue instead.

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There were a lot of reasons for this decision:

1. Despite trying a number of times to redesign the Dark Althena costume for modesty in a way that pleased me, I couldn’t come up with something I really liked, and honestly I dislike the idea of changing a design just to suit myself.

2. It’s going to be January in Chicago, and I really don’t want to be wearing next to nothing even if I plan to be inside the whole time.

3. I own Lucia’s pendant – the PSOne re-release of Lunar 2 had arguably one of the coolest box sets of any video game ever, and inside that box set, along with a whole bunch of other goodies, was a life-size official replica of Lucia’s pendant, which just made me wonder why in the heck I never considered this cosplay before in my life!

4.  Lucia is badass, is any other reason needed?

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This costume required some thought before I went about actually starting to make it.  She doesn’t wear it for very long in the game and there aren’t really any good pictures of what the whole thing looks like (the bromide above is the best image you get of what she’s wearing.)  How the cape looks under the neck/shoulder thing she’s wearing and how it fastens together is not really clearly seen.

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There’s obviously an opening in the front, however it seems to overlap quite a bit – shoulder to shoulder, at least, because when she stands with her arms inside, there is no obvious opening.  I sketched some designs, and came up with a basic design for a cape that is made of straight panels, gathered at the shoulders to give it volume, with some kind of a collar, that overlaps from shoulder to shoulder.  I played with some old sheets on my dress form, and came up with a basic working pattern.

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I used red cotton sateen for this cape – not a choice I’m entirely happy with in retrospect; I think I might have preferred something even heavier.  I traced my pattern pieces onto the fabric, and then extended the shoulder width, to allow for room for pleating.

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I pleated the shoulders on the cape back panel, which was one piece, and the two front panels, and then sewed them all together with french seams. I had to take in the shoulders a number of times because they were too big and gave this weird sort of balloony effect that I didn’t like.  I think a heavier fabric would have hung better.  Anyway, I just kept taking in my seams until it fell nicely from my shoulders.

For the collar, I just wanted to make a simple standing collar – it won’t be seen anyway underneath the neck piece/shoulder armor thing, whatever it is.

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I was going to line the collar with some stiff canvas I had, but lo and behold, it was nowhere to be found… naturally!  So instead, I cut two more strips of the sateen and stitched them to the inside – the stitch line is on the inside of the collar so it doesn’t bother me.  Then I attached the collar, and hand tacked it down on the inside.  The extra layers of fabric help it to stand quite nicely without flopping around.

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Here’s the top of the cape, all finished – doesn’t look like much, does it?  I put hooks in two places on the collar to keep it shut, since it overlaps almost the entire front half of the collar.

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And here’s me, tiredly modeling the cape!  Right now, it’s only pinned where it overlaps in the front, but I’m going to put some buttons there, probably the same ones I’ll put on the rest of the costume when I get around to making it.

 

So, I got something accomplished today, even if it wasn’t what I planned to!  It gives me such a feeling of accomplishment to finish things in one day – I’ve broken up all my costume lists into small tasks that can be done in a day.  It’s back to work tomorrow, but next week I’ll be tackling the black uniform that Lucia wears.

Megpoid Camellia for Anime-Zap! 2015

Ah, it feels so good to cross things off lists!  Yesterday I tackled the white dress for my sister’s Megpoid cosplay.

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Here, if you need reminding, is an image of the costume in question.

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And here’s my version!  I spent all day yesterday constructing the dress, but admittedly I was working pretty leisurely on it.  The construction is simple and I probably could have finished in half a day.

I didn’t take many pictures of it during construction, but here’s a close up of the bodice and the inside of the bodice:

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I drafted the pattern on my dress form, to my sister’s measurements.  Since it’s a strapless dress, I built it more sturdily than my own.  The inner layer is an old thrifted white sheet, the fashion layer is white peach skin, and it’s lined with white lining fabric.  I added a hefty amount of boning (some industrial-size zip ties that my dad gave me for free; score!)  There are two bones to each seam and some in between seam, as well.  One thing I really hate sometimes is seeing a good costume – historical or otherwise – ruined by looking slummy because of a lack of proper undergarments/structuring.  Stays and corsets are important for historical costuming, and I guess for me that carries over into modern costuming as well; the silhouette is important.  So, anyway, that’s the reason for that.  (Sorry for the spiel!)

The skirt is a half-circle.  It took me some thinking to decide how to do the skirt of the dress, because the green petticoat was cut in a full circle only for fullness – I didn’t want the dress skirt to be that full.  In the picture, it pretty much lays flat over the green fluff layer.  So I played around with some fabric and the petticoat on my dress form until I decided that a half-circle would do.

And also…

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A hat!  I whipped this together in about ten minutes with some hot glue and an old black felt hat I happened to have laying around.  The green flowers I had gone shopping for last week, and I went to every craft store in town to find what I wanted – but I was working off memory and didn’t have a picture of the costume with me, so maybe I was being more picky than I needed to be.  Anyhow, none of the flowers I found were actually camellias, but they’re all a good close match.  The flowers on the dress were bought for this project; the white flower on the hat and the crystals were bought a while back on clearance, as well as the green striped ribbon.

This project is essentially finished (“essentially finished” – my catchphrase) and it’s nice to have finally completed something!  I’ve been working on bits and pieces of stuff but there’s a sense of accomplishment in having a costume all done.  All I have left on this one is to add a bit more green tulle to the petticoat (or maybe I’ll add it to the white skirt itself) to cover that little gap where I pulled the skirt up to attach the flower.

 

And what did I work on today…?

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Hint: it involves… yet more ruffles!  I’ll post about that tomorrow.

blue satin round gown + hat

I wanted to continue my sewing streak from last week and get started on my convention costumes right away yesterday.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anywhere to begin underneath the piles of UFOs I’ve got laying around – so I devoted two days to finishing up some almost-done but for some reason not-done projects I had on the table.

Last time I posted about this gown, I mistakenly called it taffeta?  I’m not sure why I did that, but it is in fact satin.  And while normally I avoid satin like the plague (I have a dislike of shiny fabrics) I had picked this dark navy blue satin up because it was on super-clearance and honestly, the shine was not too bad.  That is, it doesn’t scream “costume satin!!” to me.

Anyhow, at last check, the gown was finished and just in need of trimming.  It also, I found upon examination now two months later, was in need of hemming and some minor alterations about the sleeves.  I whipped all that out yesterday.

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I bought a bunch of rolls of this blue organza ribbon at the same time as I bought my fabric – also on clearance; 50 cents a roll!  Unfortunately, I only got two rolls of the 2″ wide ribbon and have yet to be able to find more, and I used it all up on the neckline and front of the bodice.  I intended to have trim also on the sleeves and more on the bodice, but when I ran out of the 2″ and started using 1″, it just didn’t look right to me.  So I scrapped that and left the gown a little under trimmed – for now.

The lace is just tacked into the sleeve for effect; I intend to make some sleeve flounces also, since I have a good amount of the blue satin left.

There’s also…

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A hat!  I spent this morning making the hat, which I meant to do (and think I posted about doing) ages ago.  It’s a straw hat from Michael’s with the crown cut down to a more shallow size.  It’s covered with blue satin and the brim is lined with black silk moire (which I picked up nearly a whole yard remnant of at Hobby Lobby a while back – I’m always surprised at what I stumble across at Hobby Lobby!)  The crown is trimmed with a strip of ruched and pinked blue satin, and I added a bow of ivory silk dupioni because I love bows.  I adored the big silk bow on the hat that went with my Ciel ball gown, so I went with it again!  I also had just enough of the ivory silk left to make a nice, long sash to tie around my waist, to bring the outfit together.

I took some white ostrich feathers I had laying around and gave them a nice tea bath in my favorite Lady Gray to make them more ivory-colored, and they’re just drying now so that I can throw them on this hat.  And then it will be done!  Excepting the sleeve flounces, this project is finished!

 

I still have lots and lots to do, but it’s nice to get one UFO off my list, especially since my list keeps growing with more and more things I’m finding I need for the convention.  I want to try and go out this weekend to take some pictures in this costume, but we’ll see if there’s time.  Also, it’s hella cold out right now, so I might have to save the wearing of this gown for a warmer time of year.